Producer sues lawyers in Farrah Fawcett documentary flap

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Producer sues lawyers in Farrah Fawcett documentary flap

Thu May 20, 2010 @ 10:41AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Fawcett,farrah Producer Craig Nevius is fighting back against lawyers representing the estate of Farrah Fawcett, escalating a nasty battle over a documentary about the late actress.

Nevius alleges in a lawsuit filed Friday that Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, the well-known West L.A. entertainment law firm, and two of its prominent attorneys exercised professional negligence and breached fiduciary duty by representing the estate.

Nevius is trying to prove in a separate lawsuit that he was cut out of "Farrah's Story," a documentary about the late actress' battle with cancer that attracted nine million viewers on NBC last year. The estate has claimed in its own lawsuit against Nevius that he botched a first edit of the doc and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the actress' company. Claims about who mishandled Farrah's money have been going back and forth in the ongoing litigation.

Attention has now turned to MSK and attorneys Kim Swartz and Karin Pagnanelli.

In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Nevius claims that MSK partner Swartz represented Sweetened by Risk, an entity set up by Nevius and Fawcett, in negotiations with NBC. During negotiations, according to the lawsuit, both became frustrated with Swartz's "lackadaisical and inattentive representation" and decided to relieve him of his services.

Then the relationship between Nevius and Fawcett's team fell apart, and MSK was representing Ryan O'Neil and other members of Fawcett's side.

The litigation war commenced and Pagnanelli appeared as counsel of record for the estate. Nevius disputed this alleged "conflict of interest," and last September he got a court to disqualify MSK from the original lawsuit. Nevius is now pursuing damages for the alleged breach of fiduciary duty.

MSK managing partner Tom Lambert tells us the suit is just a ploy to gain leverage in the litigation.

“Mr. Nevius has never been a client of this firm," Lambert says. "Since there is pending litigation involving Mr. Nevius, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the specifics of the legal matters being contested. However, we can categorically state that his recent lawsuit against our firm is a totally baseless action brought against us by the adversary of our clients. We will continue to zealously represent the interests of every client of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp."

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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 Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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