Ex-Fox News Staffer Threatens Legal Action Over Showtime's Roger Ailes Series
A lawyer for Laurie Luhn, a former booker for the cable channel, sent an email to several attorneys who represent Showtime and Blumhouse Television expressing concern that his client might be portrayed as a "pimp" for Ailes in the series.
A former Fox News Channel employee accused of procuring attractive young women for the pleasure of Roger Ailes is threatening legal action against Showtime, which plans on airing an eight-episode miniseries about the former head of Fox News who was accused of decades of sexual harassment before resigning in 2016 and dying a year later.
A lawyer for Laurie Luhn, a former booker for Fox News, fired off an email Nov. 12 to several attorneys representing Showtime and Blumhouse Television expressing concern that his client might be portrayed as a "pimp" for Ailes when, in fact, she is one of his alleged victims, forced into sexual acts and rebuffed by several top executives when she leveled complaints against him.
The Showtime series, The Loudest Voice in the Room, is based on the book by Gabriel Sherman and stars Russell Crowe as Ailes. Sherman also wrote in a New York magazine article that Luhn was paid as much as $250,000 annually to book talent at Fox News and was awarded a $3.15 million severance deal when she left after promising to adhere to a nondisclosure agreement. "She denied ever setting Ailes up with her staff for explicitly sexual purposes, but she did send them in for private meetings with him where she knew they could be exposed to sexual harassment," Sherman wrote of Luhn.
"You're going to find me 'Roger's Angels.' You're going to find me whores," Luhn said Ailes told her, according to Sherman's article.
By the time she left Fox News, Luhn had risen from director of booking to senior director of corporate and special events.
Luhn's attorney, Larry Klayman, the conservative founder of Judicial Watch who is best known for filing several lawsuits against Bill Clinton, said in an email to attorneys at the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm that Luhn should be retained as a consultant on Loudest Person in the Room either by Showtime, producer Jason Blum or Blumhouse Television in order to ensure the accuracy of her portrayal. Also, she seeks compensation for the use of her likeness.
"There is a probability, given previous false and misleading representations from and by one of the principal writers Gabe Sherman, concerning Ms. Luhn, including but hardly limited to his writing that Ms. Luhn brought Mr. Ailes women (i.e. in effect was his pimp), and thus you and Showtime/CBS are on notice that its mini-series must not again defame my client," Klayman wrote in his email to the attorneys.
"I am available to meet y'all to work this out. But it must be done quickly and affirmatively to avoid litigation," Klayman added in the email, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Fox News and Sherman did not respond to a request for comment. Representatives for Blumhouse and Showtime had no comment. Attorney Alonzo Wickers of Davis Wright Tremaine told Klayman in a letter that "producers of docudramas and other expressive works are not obligated to secure approval from, or pay compensation to, real-life persons who are depicted in their works," and he cited Olivia de Havilland v. FX Networks, which Klayman says is irrelevant.
"She's not a public figure. That law does not apply to Laura Luhn," said Klayman. "She needs to be on that set to make sure she's portrayed accurately or they risk a defamation lawsuit, which is probably what they'll get. We can either do this the nice way, or do it another way."
On the Showtime series, Luhn is played by Annabelle Wallis, while Gretchen Carlson, the first prominent person to publicly accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, is played by Naomi Watts. There is also a competing project in the works, a feature film about Ailes and the women under him at Fox News, from producer Jay Roach that Lionsgate might release. In that film, John Lithgow will play Ailes and Malcolm McDowell will portray his boss, Rupert Murdoch.
Luhn told THR she does not object to the Roach production because she expects it "to have more integrity than Showtime or Blumhouse in portraying the real Roger Ailes-Laurie Luhn story." Luhn also said she has reached out for a consultancy role in that film as well.
"I was the principal woman viciously harassed by Fox News' CEO Roger Ailes," Luhn told THR. "My mental state was destroyed to the point of my contemplating suicide."
Luhn said when she complained about Ailes, Fox News sent her "conflicted lawyers and psychiatrists" to counsel her, and one threatened to commit her to an "asylum" if she spoke to the media or law enforcement. (Klayman also stated, "Fox News will be sued because some of the unethical treatment of Laura is ongoing.")
"I have asked to be permitted to play a consultancy role in the production to assure that the story is told completely accurately, which was not the case two years ago in an article written for New York magazine by Gabriel Sherman, the main writer of the eight-part miniseries," Luhn said.