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We don’t usually wade into personal lives here, especially the (typically boring) lives of journalists. But we couldn’t help our fascination with this complaint filed today in LA Superior Court.
Former LA Times editorial page editor Andres Martinez is suing his ex-girlfriend Kelly Mullens, a prominent publicist, for negligence and promissory estoppel over the so-called “Grazer-gate” flap. Back in early 2007, the LAT aborted a planned edition of its Sunday opinion section “guest edited” by superproducer Brian Grazer after it was revealed that Mullens repped Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment while also dating Martinez.
In the new lawsuit, Martinez alleges he came up with the idea to recruit guest editors for the Sunday Current section, and he wanted Steven Spielberg as his first “get.” Spielberg passed, so Martinez went to Grazer. Martinez says that because Mullens worked for Allan Mayer at 42 West, who had suggested Grazer, he brought in other editors like Michael Newman and Nicholas Goldberg to avoid the appearance of a conflict.
Grazer agreed to do it, and Mullens allegedly recused herself from promoting Grazer’s involvement in the project. Yet when the date of the issue drew near, a draft press release was circulated with Mullens’ name on it and Martinez later discovered that Mullens had “concealed her presence from Plaintiff during a conference discussing the section.”
The LAT news staff later published a story detailing the relationship and Mullens’ involvement in the Grazer promotion, which led to LAT publisher David Hiller canceling the section (and Grazer allegedly firing 42 West).
Martinez ended up leaving the paper. He now says Mullens caused him irreparable harm by “having his professional reputation damaged, by his constructive discharge from The Los Angeles Times, and by the emotional distress and suffering that has resulted.”
In addition to taking a few potshots at his former employer (he refers to his old post at the LAT as “then one of the most coveted jobs in American journalism”) (emphasis ours), he wants unspecified damages.
Martinez is repped by Adam Levin and Paul Guelpa at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.
UPDATE: Mullens’ lawyer Blair Berk has just emailed us a statement saying the Martinez lawsuit was filed as retaliation for a restraining order that was issued against him in Washington earlier this year for unstable behavior (Martinez is now a fellow at the DC-based New American Foundation). Here’s the restraining order pdf, which includes some unsettling email correspondence that we’ll let you read for yourself (including what Mullens describes as suicide threats).
Berk’s full statement follows:
Andres Martinez has filed a meritless and clearly frivolous lawsuit in a sad attempt to retaliate against Ms. Mullens, who earlier this year obtained a restraining order against him because of his unstable behavior, threats, and harassment. This is part of a pattern of harassment by Mr. Martinez against Ms. Mullens which has gone on for a long time. Ms. Mullens will not be bullied by Mr. Martinez’s abuse of the legal system; she intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit and she is confident she will prevail.
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