Sid Sheinberg Regrets Calling James Garner a "Cry Baby"

Sid Sheinberg, left, and James Garner

The former MCA president explains his side of the story after the actor was eulogized by litigator Neville Johnson in The Hollywood Reporter magazine

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Litigator Neville Johnson eulogized James Garner in The Hollywood Reporter's Aug. 1 issue for his nine-year court battle against Universal, starting in 1980, over the actor’s share of The Rockford Files profits.

Johnson wrote it ended in a confidential $14 million settlement and with Sid Sheinberg, then-president of parent MCA, calling the actor a “cry baby,” since he’d been paid $5 million already. 

Now Sheinberg, 79, writes to THR and Johnson to clear his side of the story.

The full letter from Sheinberg reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Johnson:

Someone called your article in the August 1st edition of the Hollywood Reporter to my attention.

Such article suggests that “Universal,” a division of MCA for which I was responsible, settled the Jim Garner lawsuit for an amount “reputed to be $14 million.” Frankly, although I do not recall the exact settlement, I do know that it was not in the neighborhood of “$14 million.”

I wouldn’t want any reader of your article to believe that the settlement with Mr. Garner somehow resulted in a change in Universal’s preexisting policy and practice. We lived by the terms of our contracts with profit participants.

I regret referring to Mr. Garner as a “cry baby.” I am sure he believed in the position he was asserting. I was simply trying to be funny, and on that occasion at least, I probably failed.

I join Jim’s family and fans in mourning the loss of not only a great actor, but a man of high conviction.


Sid Sheinberg