Paris Hilton says she plugged 'Pledge This!'
Heiress takes the stand in film promotion lawsuitMIAMI -- Paris Hilton repeatedly fussed with her hair and makeup in a federal courtroom Friday, sported six-inch stiletto heels and a black dress and amused the judge with a little wave on the way to the witness stand.
Once on the stand, though, Hilton was businesslike when it came to defending herself against an $8 million lawsuit's claim that she didn't do her part to promote the 2006 boxoffice bomb "Pledge This!" She acknowledged in court that the movie didn't turn out very well but insisted she plugged it for everything she was worth.
"If I have my name attached to something, I want it to be as big as it can be," the 28-year-old heiress, model and actress testified. "It could have been a lot better if it was done more professionally. I wanted it to do as well as possible."
Hilton is accused by an investor's lawsuit of turning her back on the film, which made just $2.9 million, at a crucial time when it was being released on DVD and in foreign markets. The lawsuit seeking $8.3 million in damages claims she violated her contract by rejecting or ignoring requests by producers to appear on talk shows and do radio and magazine interviews for the film.
Hilton insisted she was never told her contract required appearances after the October 2006 premiere of "Pledge This!" and said she spent more than two years promoting it beforehand, including two high-profile trips to the Festival de Cannes.
She also testified during four hours on the stand that she relied on her managers and agents to vet most of her promotional appearance offers because she was constantly working on projects ranging from TV shows and films to a lines of perfume and handbags. She wasn't aware of many suggestions made by the "Pledge This!" producers, she said.
"My people handle my schedule. I'm a brand. I'm a businesswoman. I have 13 different product lines. I'm always working," Hilton said.
The trial is being heard by Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno, who reacted with surprise when Hilton gave him a little wave before testifying. "I've never had a witness wave at me before," the judge cracked.
In another exchange, Moreno was puzzled by the title of Hilton's current reality show, "My New BFF."
"What does that mean?" he said. After Hilton gave the title -- "Paris Hilton's My New Best Friend Forever" -- the judge remarked, "This will be my best case forever."
Without missing a beat, Hilton replied, "You're my best judge forever."
At one point, Hilton was testifying about how full her schedule was during rehearsals for her next film, 2008's "The Hottie & the Nottie," when Moreno interrupted.
"Was it better than this one?" the judge said, referring to "Pledge This!"
Testimony concluded Friday but Moreno did not issue a ruling. If he finds Hilton breached her contract, a separate proceeding could be held to determine any damages.
The lawsuit was filed by attorney Michael Goldberg, a court-appointed receiver for a now-defunct entertainment company that was the major investor in "Pledge This!" The company, Worldwide Entertainment Group, was shut down as a $300 million Ponzi scheme by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Goldberg is attempting to recoup losses for some 3,300 investors.
Goldberg said Friday he put up the final $600,000 from his receivership account to complete the movie in hopes that Hilton's promotion prowess would enable it to turn a profit. He said her unwillingness to do events after the premiere was the reason it lost money.
"I said, 'Just do one little thing and you'll never hear from me again,' " Goldberg told Moreno. "We had no support whatsoever."