Another woman accuses actor of “advances” on set of Joaquim Phoenix documentary
Just as Casey Affleck’s lawyers are seeking compensation and arbitration on one sexual harassment allegation, another woman who worked on "I'm Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix" is now claiming the Oscar nominee did the same to her.
As with the $2 million lawsuit filed last week by producer Amanda White, cinematographer Magdalena Gorka filed a $2.25 million suit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Gorka and White share a lawyer, Brian Procel of Miller Barondess.
In the suit, Gorka charges that Affleck, whose breath the complaint says “reeked of alcohol," climbed in a bed with her while they were shooting in New York City in late 2008.
Later in the making of the film, the camerawoman — who left Affleck's directorial project after the first incident only to return when promised it would not happened again — says she was “berated and verbally attacked by Affleck after she refused his sexual advances" and was "criticized constantly for refusing to be submissive in response to his rants and derisive comments.”
This filing comes just two days after Affleck’s lawyer Marty Singer filed a motion with the court calling for White — who once worked extensively with producer Chris Moore on films such as “Good Will Hunting” and his directorial debut “Kill Theory — to face arbitration on Sept. 22.
White’s July 23 filing claimed the actor refused to settle her claim of not being paid an agreed-upon $50,000 for months of work on the documentary. It detailed numerous "uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances in the workplace" by Affleck during the shooting of the film.
“These two lawsuits are absolute lies,” Singer told TheWrap. “My understanding is that there was nothing offensive to these women,” the powerhouse L.A. lawyer said Friday. “I've spoken to three members of the crew and they were shocked by the lawsuits.”
In his July 28 filing for Affleck and Flemmy Productions, Singer says that White, who stopped working on the doc in April 2009, “concocted this fabricated sexual harassment lawsuit over a year after she failed in her devious attempt extort (sic) a better production deal.”
“Both women left the film in April 2009 and both were refused when they wanted to return,” Singer told TheWrap. “White was not allowed back because of her inappropriate conduct and because she stole crew contracts, some of which were returned, to hold the film hostage so she could receive even greater compensation that Joaquin. With the Gorka woman, she just didn't do a great job.”
Singer added, “There was no mention of sexual harassment before June.”
The lawyer says he and Affleck are considering initiating proceedings against Procel because he, claims, the lawyer leaked the White suit to the Hollywood Reporter last week before filing it with the court.
Citing “unwarranted demands” and attempts “through her lawyer-friend to June of 2010 to interfere with the release of the documentary,” Affleck's filing asks that White not only come to binding arbitration in Superior Court but also pay $18,825 of his attorney’s fees and costs.
That ain’t going to happen, lawyer Procel told TheWrap. “The motion is entirely without merit,” he told TheWrap. “We plan to file an opposition brief on Aug. 9, and we're confident that they'll be thrown out of court.”
“The evidence of harassment is overwhelming at this point,” he added, “and it took a lot of courage for these two women to come forward and tell their stories.”
“I'm Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix” is scheduled to be released by Magnolia Pictures on Sept. 10, 2010.
This second allegation against Affleck and the arbitration demand by the actor’s lawyer comes as Hollywood reels from a flurry of sexual harassment charges being levied both in front of and behind the camera.
“You don’t even hear about all of the sexual harassment cases in Hollywood,” attorney Gloria Allred told TheWrap. “A lot of cases involving Hollywood power figures are solved confidentially prior to any lawsuit being filed so no one ever knows except the parties and their attorneys what the accusation were and how they were solved.”
Not hidden at the moment is “Bones” star David Boreanaz, being sued by Kristina Hagen. The actress, represented by Allred, claims Boreanaz inappropriately touched her chest, masturbated in front of her and sent suggestive texts to her while she was an extra on the forensic thriller series.
At the same time, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone has attracted a lot of attention lately for his supposedly attention to specific female employees and getting all-female band the Electric Barbarllas their own show on MTV.
Former ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson also is battling a story in the Hollywood Reporter that his resignation earlier this week came in the midst of several charges of sexual harassment against him. McPherson's lawyer, who is also Marty Singer, Thursday wrote THR demanding an “immediate publication of an apology and retraction.”
“I definitely thinks the casting couch still exists in Hollywood,” Gloria Allred advises. “People in power take advantage of those not in power.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this article.
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