AFM 2012: Legal Slugfest Over ‘Billboard Mistress’ Documentary
'The Glamorous Lie' tells the story of a scorned woman who took her revenge by buying a billboard in Times Square and making a documentary. The married exec with whom she had an affair now charges he is being extorted, and is fighting to stop distribution.
Whatever international buyers think of The Glamorous Lie when Tricoast Worldwide debuts the feature documentary at AFM, the off-screen legal battle is the real drama.
Screening for the first time at AFM, it’s the story of YaVaughnie Wilkins, who had an eight-year romantic relationship with high tech executive Charles Phillips Jr. before finding out he was already married. She took her revenge in 2010 by buying billboards in New York’s Times Square, Atlanta and Silicon Valley with a photo of them canooding and a caption she says came from him: “You are my soul mate forever.”
Phillips, at the time, was President of Oracle and was a member of President Obama’s Economic Advisory Board. Although the billboards came down in a matter of days at Wilkins request, the damage had been done. There was a media frenzy and Wilkins was dubbed the "Billboard Mistress."
Phillips had to issue a statement admitting the affair. Reunited with his wife, he left Oracle shortly after and now is CEO of Infor Global Solutions, a New York City software company.
Wilkins wasn’t done, however. She financed and starred in a documentary about her experiences as a scorned woman called The Glamorous Lie. It was produced and directed by Mark Alamares, who now claims he eventually decided Wilkins just wanted to extort money from Phillips, according to a lawsuit filed in L.A. Superior court. That suit was in response to one filed by Wilkins, who had to fight Alamares to get control of the finished documentary, which she says he sold to Phillips. Wilkins now says at the request of Alamares lawyers, she has removed him completely from the credits.
Phillips, meanwhile, engaged CNN and CBS legal analyst Lisa Bloom and New York litigator Orin Snyder, who unleashed legal threats to film festivals that contemplated showing the documentary, and background material to journalists considering writing about it. Wilkins publicist Henry Eshelman says that may explain why a number of journalists suddenly lost interest in the story.
Bloom told The Hollywood Reporter the documentary “defames and disparages Mr. Phillips, using audio and video of him and his family without his authorization or consent.” She said her client reserves his legal rights but added there is no current plan to go after international buyers who license the documentary.
Says Wilkins: “Phillips has done nothing in the past year since he allegedly bought my footage." She added: “Phillips’ legal counsel quotes a false claim by Alamares that The Glamorous Lie is nothing more than an extortion ploy against Phillips. I want to state for the record that I have never taken my documentary to Phillips in any way, shape or form, for any purpose.”