Film producer sues LA Times for $10 million


MUMBAI: Film producer Julius R. Nasso filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against the Los Angeles Times for publishing “false and misleading statements” about Nasso’s character.

The suit claims that “the article was based on a false statement, which went beyond a reckless disregard of the truth and which was intended to result in a detrimental and irreparable impact on Mr. Nasso’s reputation and business. The statement and implications were defamatory, false and inaccurate and were known by defendants to be false and inaccurate…”

Nasso who recently produced The Poet, which won Best Picture at the New York Staten Island Film Festival, starring Daryl Hannah and Roy Scheider, is seeking $10,000,000 in damages from the newspaper powerhouse.

According to the lawsuit, on 7 June, 2007 Los Angeles Times staff reporter Chuck Philips wrote an article titled “Pellicano Lawyers Target FBI Agent” falsely stating, “Seagal had been in a film partnership with reputed Gambino crime family member Julius Nasso…”

On 9 June, 2007 Nasso’s New York lawyer Robert Hantman demanded a retraction clearly stating that if the LA Times were to reiterate the false statements that Nasso was “a reputed Gambino crime family member,” this would constitute further evidence of actual malice. According to Hantman, on 16 June, 2007 a retraction did appear which “republished the previous defamatory statement,” and, rather than apologise, the statement implied that Nasso was “an associate.” On 5 July another retraction was requested and to date this request has been ignored.

As reported in the complaint, “Said statement was false and known to be false by defendants or were published in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. As a result of such statements being made and published the plaintiff has suffered injuries. By reason of the foregoing false and defamatory statements, willfully and maliciously made by the defendants, plaintiff has been injured in his good name, fame, and credit and brought into public disgrace, ridicule, aversion and infamy amongst his neighbors, members and community.”

Nasso, has been active in the motion picture industry since 1981 including a business partnership with Steven Seagal, with whom he produced commercial successes starring Seagal including: Under Siege, Out for Justice, Marked for Death and Hard to Kill.

Nasso is suing the Los Angeles Times and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Phillips on three counts including “knowingly, willfully, and maliciously disseminating false information about him.”

“Had reporter Chuck Phillips read the judge’s transcript from 2004 in its entirety he would not have erroneously reported on my character. In 2003 and 2004 his own newspaper covered this case and previously reported the judge’s ruling,” explains Nasso. “I refuse to sit back and let a reporter make defamatory statements about me in a newspaper that is an invaluable resource in the very industry I work, film,” he added.

For the past 30 years Nasso has produced films that appeal to every demographic. An immigrant from a small village in Italy known as Terranova, he started his film career in 1980 as an assistant to the legendary director Sergio Leone on the set of Once Upon A Time in America. As head of international promotions in 1986 Nasso worked on the action film Above the Law, which led to a 14 year producing partnership with Steven Seagal and the formation of Seagal/Nasso Productions, wherein Jules was responsible for producing a series of action blockbusters. In 2002 Jules won the Sundance Film Festival with Narc, starring Ray Liotta and Jason Patrick.