The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Who's like a virgin? Woody Allen mudwrestles with Dov Charney

April 10, 2009 |  1:15 pm


Apparently wildly jealous that Los Angeles seems to have a monopoly on nearly all of the great sleazeball celebrity trials -- the more recent being the seemingly endless Phil Spector trial, which has been loaded with all sorts of strange and wacky moments, as chronicled here -- the New York Post has really been putting some elbow grease into its effort to build up interest in the ongoing Manhattan federal court suit involving Woody Allen and controversial American Apparel chief Dov Charney. Allen is demanding $10 million from Charney's clothing firm for plastering his face on billboards that appeared briefly in New York and L.A. two years ago.

According to the most recent Post story, Charney's lawyers are playing hardball, unleashing "a torrent of trash talk," saying that Allen's deposition claim that his $10-million asking price for appearing in a U.S. ad was hardly credible since Allen's scandalous past had driven down the value of his celebrity. Allen had been critical of the use of his image in the American Apparel ads, saying he was an advertising "virgin." Here's the juiciest excerpt:

"We believe that Mr. Allen's popularity has decreased significantly, especially in light of the scandals he's been associated with," American Apparel lawyer Stuart Slotnick told the Post. "We believe that he greatly overvalues the worth of his endorsement -- if he can get one." American Apparel cites Allen's notoriously bitter custody battle with ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow, as well as his horndog high jinks with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen secretly romanced and later wed.

Just to make sure we understood the gravity of that last reference, the Post quotes from a statement in court papers where Charney's lawyers said: "The term 'sex scandal' shall mean ... your relationship with Soon-Yi Previn including the discovery and public reports thereof, the nude pictures you took of Soon-Yi Previn, and your marriage to Soon-Yi Previn."

Eager to appear fair-minded, the Post did quote from a deposition by Allen's agent, ICM's John Burnham, who testified that his client was one of five or 10 "iconic" figures in American cinema, right up there with Clint Eastwood, Charles Chaplin and Frank Sinatra (who, talk about degrees of separation, had his own relationship with Farrow before Allen). To be even more evenhanded, the Post described Allen's adversary as a man "who has been repeatedly been sued for sex harassment and once reportedly masturbated in front of a reporter."

The trial is set to begin May 18. I've already asked my editors if I can fly out to cover the proceedings. If they could only sell tickets, I'd bet scalpers could get more for the day of Allen's testimony than for any Knicks game.

Photo of Woody Allen by Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times