Academy Award-winner Michael Douglas and his ex-wife used lawyers to hurl accusations of greed in a fight over earnings from the actor’s reprise as the avaricious Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
“It’s a sham,” fueled by Diandra Douglas’s “greed,” Michael Douglas’s attorney, Marilyn Chinitz, told a New York judge today of his ex-wife’s claim to half his earnings from his latest Gekko role. “It’s time for Mrs. Douglas to move on.”
Diandra Douglas sued in June, arguing she was entitled to share in the proceeds from the 2010 sequel to the 1987 “Wall Street” film. She cites their 1998 settlement agreement that gives her the right to 50 percent of the proceeds from films, television and stage work he did during their marriage -- and, she says, anything related to those projects.
The actor’s attorney today argued that didn’t include new movies such as “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” which is set to open Sept. 24. She said Douglas wasn’t a producer of the 1987 film and that he gave his wife what was she was entitled to receive under his contract 12 years ago.
The Douglases themselves didn’t appear in the Manhattan courtroom. Their attorneys faced off before state Supreme Court Acting Justice Matthew F. Cooper, who first must decide whether the case should be heard in New York or sent back to Santa Barbara, California, where the settlement was executed.
‘Shirk’ His ‘Responsibility’
“Mr. Douglas is seeking to shirk his financial responsibility that was entered into when he signed this contract,” Diandra Douglas’s attorney, Nancy Chemtob, said. “Mr. Douglas was Gordon Gekko in ‘Wall Street’ and he’s Gordon Gekko in ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
“This is a man who simply doesn’t want to pay anyone,” Chemtob said, adding he was reported to be worth more than $145 million. “He resides and files his tax returns in Bermuda when his children went to school in New York. Greed is about somebody who doesn’t want to pay his taxes and doesn’t want to pay his spouse.”
Douglas won an Oscar for his role as Gekko, a cutthroat corporate raider who preached that “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” Gekko, loosely based on convicted arbitrager Ivan Boesky, symbolized the excesses of Wall Street in the 1980s. The new film, with the same director, Oliver Stone, picks up with Gekko’s release from prison.
Michael and Diandra Douglas were divorced in 2000 after 23 years of marriage. The couple have one child, Cameron, who was sentenced to five years in prison in April for drug dealing. Michael Douglas is now married to Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Diandra Douglas, who has a $35 million home on the market in California, wants the case heard in New York, where her lawyer says she now lives and where Michael Douglas also has a home. The actor’s lawyers say the case should be dismissed and also argue that California is the proper forum for any such claim.
Michael Douglas has a tumor in his throat and will undergo radiation and chemotherapy treatment, People magazine reported last week. Asked how he was doing, Chinitz told Bloomberg News he was “optimistic.”
The case is Diandra M. Douglas v. Michael Douglas, 350044/2010, New York state Supreme Court (Manhattan).