McPherson Attorney Wants Retraction, Apology From THR (updated)

Trade says it stands by its story, but an individual with knowledge of the situation tells TheWrap the publication got it wrong

Last Updated: July 30, 2010 @ 1:23 PM

Update Friday, 1:01 p.m.

Despite the threats of legal action from Steve McPherson, a spokesperson for the Hollywood Reporter told TheWrap, "We stand by our coverage."

A Disney spokesperson told TheWrap that labor laws prevent the company from addressing personnel issues.

In what could spell trouble for the Reporter and its new executive editor, Janice Min, an individual close to the situation told TheWrap that the trade publication was incorrect and that ABC has no investigation in sexual harassment under way.

Updated Friday, 9:52 a.m.

Steve McPherson made good on his threat to hit back at the Hollywood Reporter for publishing an "exclusive" article alleging that the former television executive's departure was prompted by a "sex probe," McPherson's publicist Stan Rosenfield has confirmed to TheWrap.

Implying legal action, a letter faxed and emailed to the trade publication on Thursday night demands both a retraction and apology.  In it, McPherson's new attorney Martin Singer accuses the Reporter of slander and defamation.

"Your persistence in publishing these outrageous and defamatory falsehoods has been incredibly damaging to my client, and we hereby demand immediate publication of an apology and retraction to try to mitigate the substantial damage that has been caused to my client as a result of your malicious recklessness" Singer writes. 

The letter is posted on Deadline.

Calls to Singer's office and to the Reporter's Executive Editor Janice Min were not returned.

Min, who came to the Reporter from her most recent post as editor-in-chief of Us Weekly, has only been at her new job for a few weeks. Brought in to revitalize the struggling publication, Min's influence has apparently already been seen. 

In an apparent nod to the Reporter's new leadership, Singer's letter accuses the publication of "tabloid-like behavior."

Previously:

Steve McPherson is mad as hell … and he has a new attorney who's not going to take it anymore.

Two days after resigning as ABC entertainment president — and a day after the Hollywood Reporter wrote that he quit under the cloud of a sexual misconduct investigation — his publicist released the following statement:

"Steve McPherson is not going to sit back idly regarding the false and defamatory stories fueled by unknown and anonymous sources that are now appearing in the media since his resignation from ABC. He has retained Martin Singer and Lavely & Singer to deal with these defamatory stories."

The high-profile singer is known for putting a quick kibosh on lightly sourced media reports, stopping, for example, the rampant media speculation about actor Jeremy Piven's mercury poisoning last year.

The bulldog litigator's hiring comes amid a report Wednesday that McPherson resigned his post amid an internal ABC investigation of multiple sexual harassment complaints.

The report claims the investigation started three weeks ago and it involves alleged incidents involving several women, including executives and on-air talent. One incident being investigated was witnessed by more than one staffer at a company retreat, the Reporter added.

McPherson, who had a wide-ranging role at ABC, serving as the network's top programming executive and the head of its studio, resigned abruptly Tuesday upon returning from a vacation.