Variety wants attorneys fees from 'Iron Cross' filmmaker

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Variety wants attorneys fees from 'Iron Cross' filmmaker

Tue May 18, 2010 @ 11:32AM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Hollywood trade paper Variety isn't done punishing the filmmaker behind "Iron Cross." 

Joshua Newton sued the paper in March claiming it breached a duty by seducing him into paying for ads and an awards season screening series for "Iron Cross" but printing a negative review. Variety got the case dismissed last week on an anti-SLAPP motion, the California law that protects people or companies from being sued for, among other things, exercising free speech rights. 

One of the fun incentives for filing an anti-SLAPP motion is that if you win, the case goes away at the pleading stage -- and you can ask the court to make the other guy pay your attorneys fees. Fox used the law against many of those unwitting stars of "Borat." In one case, an L.A. judge ordered a Virginia man who sued after appearing in the Sacha Baron Cohen film to pay more than $43,000 after getting SLAPP-ed out of court. 

That's exactly what Variety plans to do. "Absolutely," the trade's publisher Neil Stiles tells us. "That’s one of the reasons we chose the route we went. Frivolous lawsuits are not in anyone’s interest." Stiles adds that the fee request will be "modest," less than $20,000 but more than enough to teach a lesson.

Meanwhile, "Iron Cross" lawyer Timothy McGonical is vowing to appeal to ruling. "This is not a complaint about Variety's right to release a review," he tells the NYT. "This is a complaint about the questionable business practices of Variety."    

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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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