Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ryan O'Neal strikes back as his business manager countersues Farrah Fawcett's producing partner on behalf of her estate

Don't let the headlines fool you. Word that "Farrah Fawcett's estate" is suing her production partner Craig Nevius is the latest volley in a war that began when Nevius filed suit against Ryan O'Neal, his business manager Richard B. Francis and Alana Stewart for snatching control of the cancer documentary that was turned into a maudlin NBC special.

Nevius had claimed O'Neal and company threatened him in the power grab. In the suit filed yesterday, Farrah's-- and O'Neal's business manager Richard B. Francis filed suit yesterday on behalf of Farrah's estate and her company, Sweetened By Risk LLC.

The lawsuit claims Nevius exploited Farrah and improperly revealed privileged information about her to the media, including news that her cancer had returned. The suit also claims Nevius turned in an unworkable first cut of that documentary on Farrah's cancer fight and may have embezzled money from Sweetened By Risk.

The lawsuit states NBC, which aired the television special Farrah's Story, had to rework the footage with help from Fawcett's longtime, on-again, off-again lover, Ryan O'Neal. The edits were being made until shortly before the special aired, the lawsuit states.

Nevius' attorney, Miles J. Feldman responded:

"These allegations lack merit and are a pathetic attempt to try to intimidate and further injure Mr. Nevius."

We've covered the story extensively in the past year. After Farrah's health took a turn for the worst, Ryan O'Neal took control of Farrah's estate and cancer project, kicking Nevius to the curb and, with the help of producers from NBC's Dateline show, renamed it Farrah's Story (a nod to his star turn in Love Story forty years ago) and turned what was a video journal into a maudlin exploitative television special that featured a scene in which Farrah and O'Neal's shackled drug-addicted son climbs into her deathbed.

Nevius sued Francis, O'Neal and Fawcett's friend Alana Stewart over Farrah's Story last year, claiming that the trio interfered with his role in Farrah's Story. That suit is still pending

According to the lawsuit filed Friday, Nevius knew Farrah for about five years before she died on June 25th, working with her on the Chasing Farrah reality TV series and producing the documentary that eventually aired on NBC before Farrah cut ties to him in early 2009 and he became jealous of O'Neal and Stewart.

The lawsuit contends Nevius turned in a first cut of Farrah's Story that Farrah deemed "wholly unacceptable." She then turned creative control of the film over to O'Neal.

The complaint states Francis believes Nevius "embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars" from Farrah's company. It states Nevius has refused to allow Sweetened by Risk's financial records.

An interesting footnote: Farrah's Charlie's Angels co-star Kate Jackson is defending Nevius.

Though she'd been critical of him in the past, Kate said last night that her earlier comments were misguided, that as far as she knows Farrah had creative control when she worked with Nevius, and that she's shocked by the allegations:

"He had an unflagging devotion to Farrah in every way and he worked with her to help her achieve her vision, not his vision and not anybody else's vision."

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