Eloise in Paris (and a fight over paying Uma Thurman $4.5 million)

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Eloise in Paris (and a fight over paying Uma Thurman $4.5 million)

Fri Jan 23, 2009 @ 05:08PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Anyone with a foot fetish (hello, Quentin Tarantino) and fashionistas jonesing for a fix of Project Runway might have been excited to see Christian Siriano dress Uma Thurman in the upcoming film adaptation of the children's classic "Eloise in Paris."

But as Heidi Klum would say, one day you're in and the next you're out.

The production company behind the "Eloise" adaptation is being sued for failure to make good on an agreement to pay the company that was supposed to pay Uma Thurman $4.5 million, plus 10 percent of "certain receipts" to star in the film.

Power lawyer Bert Fields filed the case yesterday on behalf of Karuna Dream, a New York-based company that was supposed to supply the acting services of Uma Thurman. According to the complaint, the defendants, U.K.-based production and distribution company Handmade Films and the company it set up called Eloise in Paris, LTD, "repudiated" the agreement in November.

Allegedly Handmade claimed at that time that the repudiation would only entitle Karuna to $1.5 million. If true, we have no idea why Handmade has broken from the agreement. Dressing Thurman as the governess of a young girl who goes to Paris for Fashion Week seems worth it to us.

Karuna says it responded by offering them the opportunity to withdraw their repudiation, allowing Thurman to proceed as scheduled.

On January 12, Handmade allegedly "further repudiated the Acting Agreement, this time, by denying the existence of any agreement for the services of Uma Thurman."

We're pretty sure that would tick off the lawyers for Karuna and Thurman, even if they weren't Bert Fields.

Karuna is asking for the $4.5 million promised to Thurman, plus $5 million more it could have expected to make from the 10 percent contingent commission, and punitive damages. The movie was scheduled to commence shooting on February 28, but no word yet on whether it is going forward. There seems to be more going on here than meets the eye.

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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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