Hollywood guilds protest Bergstein tactic

Exec wants to operate firms without court-appointed trustee

Hollywood's major talent guilds object to a motion by David Bergstein to operate his businesses without interference from Ronald Durkin, the court-appointed trustee overseeing five of his companies that are the subject of an involuntary insolvency action.

In a filing Wednesday in U.S. bankruptcy court, the DGA, SAG, WGA West, their affiliate pension and health plans and the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans wrote to federal Judge Barry Russell that "the need for an independent agent of the court has not disappeared" and "the evidence of unpaid debt has only increased since ... the involuntary petitions" were filed March 17.

The guilds said the Bergstein companies (the debtors), "have engaged in a practice of gamesmanship, preventing the trustee's investigation by rendering essential information and witnesses unavailable. In sum, there has been no material change ... except the debtors have proven they will not voluntarily cooperate with the trustee's investigation."

The guilds said legal filings by the debtors themselves show that Bergstein's contention that the companies in the case are not inter-related with his other companies is false.

"This pressing need for trustee supervision is also echoed by the debtor's own papers," they wrote, noting "the debtors go so far as to base their request for a bond (by creditor Aramid) on alleged damages' experience by entities that are not subject to the involuntary petitions."

During a scheduled Tuesday hearing in federal court in Los Angeles, Russell is expected to rule on this and other matters, including whether Bergstein and sometime business associate Ronald Tutor should provide interviews under oath.

Bergstein did not return a call seeking comment.
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