Attorneys for Woody Allen on Monday asked a federal judge to block American Apparel Inc. from calling the director’s wife and ex-girlfriend as witnesses in court this month, but the retailer said Tuesday it has no plans to do so.
Allen sued the Los Angeles-based firm in U.S. District Court in Manhattan in March 2008 after it used his image, taken from the 1977 film “Annie Hall,” on billboards and its Web site without his permission. The filmmaker is seeking $10 million in damages.
American Apparel has questioned the worth of his endorsement following the 1992 discovery of his romantic relationship with the then 22-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of actress Mia Farrow, his girlfriend at the time. Allen and Previn married in 1997.
The retailer’s attorneys included Farrow and Previn on an initial disclosure list filed on April 10, court documents showed. The list, labeled “individuals who may be called to testify at trial,” also included Allen’s sister, the parents of American Apparel chief executive officer Dov Charney and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt.
In a motion filed Monday, Allen’s attorneys asked the judge to preclude the retailer from calling witnesses to testify on evidence concerning Allen’s family life. His lawyers wrote, “…it is clear they are sought to be introduced for one purpose — as part of a brutish attempt to smear and intimidate Mr. Allen.”
Reached Tuesday, American Apparel lawyer Stuart Slotnick said the company has “no intention” of calling Farrow or Previn at trial.
“They are not on our witness list,” Slotnick said. “This case is centered around freedoms provided by the First Amendment. At trial, American Apparel will explain how the use of the images from ‘Annie Hall’ were used to make a social statement and address social issues.”
Allen’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment.
The still frame American Apparel used for the billboards is from one of the film’s more memorable scenes in which Allen’s character is reimagined as an Orthodox rabbi while at dinner with his girlfriend’s prototypical Midwestern family.
As part of the ad campaign, American Apparel and Charney referred to Allen as their “Spiritual Leader.” When deposed, Charney said the reference was part of an effort to rehabilitate the company’s embattled image.
American Apparel and its ceo have been the target of a number of sexual harassment lawsuits in recent years. The company, known both for its suggestive ads and hipster wares, has dismissed the suits as ambulance chasing.
The two sides are due at trial on May 18 in New York.
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