Monday, July 20, 2009

Woody Allen, American Apparel Come to Terms

When we last checked in, Woody Allen was suing American Apparel for $10 million in response to the company's use of an image taken from Annie Hall in its advertisements--an act that Allen was concerned might give people the impression that he was willing to sink to working as a pitchman in his native country--and American Apparel's lawyers were, in turn, threatening to start some shit! Company mouthpiece Stuart Slotnick declared that "our belief is that after the various sex scandals that Woody Allen has been associated with, corporate America’s desire to have Woody Allen endorse their product is not what he may believe it is,” and reports appeared in the papers indicating that American Apparel planned to call Allen's wife and family members to the stand as it made its case that the director of Zelig is so widely despised that the company was practically taking its life in its hands by daring to put his face, without his permission, on its billboards. Maybe that was a bluff, or maybe the company president received a late-night legal consultation with his old business partner Jacob Marley. In any case, the company agreed yesterday to pay a $5 million settlement to the fillmaker.

"Threats and press leaks by American Apparel designed to smear me did not work," Allen said afterwards, "and a scheme to call a long list of witnesses who had nothing to do with the case was disallowed by the court. I hope this very large settlement will discourage American Apparel and others from doing this type of thing to myself or others in the future." American Apparel CEO Dov Charney, who stressed that the decision to settle was made by his company's insurance handler, made it sound as if the whole mess had grown out of a subtle attempt on his part to reach out to Allen and show him that they should probably be co-starring in a wacky sitcom together. The billboard, Charney said, was "an attempt to at least make a joke about" his own past history on the receiving end of sexual harassment lawsuits: "Today, two years later, all the claims in the lawsuits have been completely disproven and yet at the time, some writers characterized me as a rapist and abuser of women, others asserted that I was a bad Jew, and some even stated that I was not fit to run my company." It was, Charney added, "ironic that I have to explain this to Woody Allen when he has expressed similar frustrations in the past."

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