The Heath Ledger Death: Did a Defamation Threat Backfire on Mary-Kate Olsen's Lawyer?

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The Heath Ledger Death: Did a Defamation Threat Backfire on Mary-Kate Olsen's Lawyer?

Fri Feb 01, 2008 @ 09:19AM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Ledgerheath Press relations guru Eric Starkman has some advice for lawyers: Stay out of his business.

On his blog, Starkman points to the lawyer for Mary-Kate Olsen who warned the New York Post it would be on the receiving end of a lawsuit should they print anything false or defamatory about his client in the aftermath of Heath Ledger's death.

The New York Post then reported this:

Olsen’s attorney, Michael Miller [law firm affiliation not identified], immediately responded that if a reporter were to write ‘anything that is false or defamatory about Mary-Kate Olsen, in connection with Heath Ledger’s death, you and the New York Post will be sued.’

So what did the paper do? Publish this front page story, which included this line:

"The cops are afraid to ask Mary-Kate Olsen some simple questions. WE ARE NOT! WHY 1) DID you fail to call 911? 2) DID you send bodyguards?"

Starkman makes a pretty good point. Defamation warnings don't really do the trick.

On the other hand, if Starkman thinks that PR people haven't ever provoked journalists into writing unkind stories, well...we'll leave that one alone.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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