Note: everything on this page is of public record or public knowledge and/or has been released to the media via interview and/or to the Internet, on websites such as brucewillis.com, myspace.com, and others, prior to January, 2007, and/or is public record attainable from the Santa Monica Superior Court.
BRUCE WILLIS ADMITS WRONGLY AND
MISTAKENLY SUING BEST FRIEND DR. BRUCE DIMATTIA
When I asked him to provide me with fair and reasonable compensation for uprooting my life, and to pay me what he legally owed me, not only did he refuse to pay me but in August 2006 he filed a lawsuit against me alleging preposterously that I was trying to extort money from him.
On January 30th, 2007, in the face of a threat by me to file a multi-digit defamation of character countersuit exposing the full and real truth, Willis dropped his frivolous lawsuit and released a public statement admitting that he had made a mistake in suing me, that he regretted doing so, and that all accusations he made against me were completely untrue.
Furthermore, to compensate me for wrongfully damaging my reputation with his utterly fabricated and blatantly false allegations, and to avoid my countersuit, Bruce Willis proffered a generous settlement, which I accepted.
In short, I am absolutely and completely innocent of the ridiculous charges made by Bruce Willis against me. For a more detailed account of the story, please read on.
It sure made for a great story, making a huge splash in the headlines, and it very effectively made me out to be a low-life wretch who crawled out from under some slimy rock and turned on his childhood best friend. However, none of the malicious and vile accusations in the lawsuit were true. Not a single one. The truth of the matter is very much different from that which was depicted in his misguided lawsuit.
In early August, 2006, just days after the lawsuit was filed, I was interviewed by Inside Edition and in that interview I categorically denied each and every allegation in the lawsuit and explained the truth of the situation. Furthermore, subsequently, I submitted a legal Answer in Santa Monica Superior Court in which I officially and formally denied each and every allegation (see "Dr. DiMattia's Legal Answer" below).
OUR FINANCIAL AGREEMENT:
In my interview with Inside Edition, I described that this case was not at all about extortion or shakedown or blackmail or anything like that but rather that it was purely about me trying to collect what I believed was bona fide compensation from Willis originating from an employment agreement that I had had with him, which he cancelled unilaterally and for which he did not wish to compensate me. I explained that I should have been the one to sue him first -- for breach of contract -- but opted not to. The money that I openly admit I was seeking was a debt and nothing more, with him owing me a lot of money and not wanting to pay it.
Our employment agreement involved me being in charge of auctioning off millions of dollars worth of his high-dollar personal belongings for which I was to receive a handsome sales commission (10 percent), among other considerations (including, somewhat importantly because there were accusations in the lawsuit pertaining to them, room and board and the use of a vehicle).
Furthermore, I explained that we had other disputes over intellectual property (movie ideas which we generated together) which, in the film business, could be worth millions.
Many many people were fully aware of the auctioning arrangement I had had with Bruce Willis. In fact, the whole world was made aware of the pending auctions - and that I would be in charge of them - because I, myself, notified the world about them officially and formally, with Bruce's authorization, on his very own webpage, brucewillis.com, to which I had been given extensive content control. As I described fully in the interview, the arrangement I had with him involved one and only one responsibility - auctioning - and nothing more. Specifically and importantly, our deal had absolutely nothing to do with organizing photographs or memorabilia (or anything else for all that matter), as was falsely and preposterously alleged in the lawsuit. I explained that I have plenty of evidence to prove the real and true specifics of my deal with him and that I would make it all public in court were we to end up there, which, at the time, I thought we might but, as will be seen, we did not.
The interviewer querried me as to the specifics behind the origin of our agreement and I explained that, in 2001, Bruce Willis and I rekindled a broken friendship after many years of semi-estrangement. In late 2001, after hearing some of my recorded music, which I had been working on in Nashville, Willis invited me to play music in his band and I took him up on it and we did some engagements and we had a good time. Several months later, he made a fateful offer, which ultimately led to our legal conflict.
Shots of me with the band in 2003, available on Facebook.
Included among the items he wanted me to liquidate were lots of very expensive jewelry and watches, authentic Bruce Willis movie memorabilia and wardrobe from his many, many films, music memorabilia, personal memorabilia, personal wardrobe, valuable artwork and antiques, and many other very expensive items including, importantly, eight very valuable, antique and classic vehicles (see below). Bruce said he would personally autograph every item so as to bring top dollar at auction.
It was a very enticing offer, to be sure. But, Willis sweetened the deal in several ways. As I described to the Inside Edition interviewer, my good friend knew that I had been working on my own music recording project in Nashville and that I was in the editing and mixing stage of that project. He told me that he had a recording studio in his house and that I could use that studio to finish my project. A nice perk, to be sure.
He offered more: he told me that his film production company, Cheyenne Enterprises, had a TV series they were working on, Touching Evil, and that there might be some acting possibilities for me on that show. (Let me say here that I am not a trained, professional actor, as is my old friend, and I only marginally considered this aspect of his offer, although, to be honest, I felt confident that, with the guidance of my good friend, I could have done at LEAST as good a job as he did in such great pieces of film work as 16 Blocks, Tears of the Sun, The Whole 10 Yards, Hostage, and, of course, Hudson Hawk, Willis's own brain child, all of which I had had the pleasure of watching him film. But, to be sure, acting was way down on my list of priorities. Nevertheless, it sure sounded like it might be fun.
And, of course, he said that we'd be doing a lot more music tours like the one we had done in early 2002 in which we toured 16 U.S. cities.
Finally, he said I would live with him at his home in the Hollywood hills (the one with the music studio), at the top of a huge beautiful canyon (which he owned) and which overlooks the great San Fernando valley. And the icing on the cake was the unrestricted usage of a vehicle from his fleet -- a new Cadillac Escalade SUV.
All-in-all, it was a very powerful and lucrative offer. And so, after careful consideration over the next couple weeks, I decided to accept his offer and I uprooted myself from my happy life in Tennessee (where I had been teaching and playing and recording music for several years) and, at very great expense and sacrifice, gave up my employment at four different universities, gave up my seniority at those institutions, gave up my benefits, my medical and dental coverage, my retirement contributions, and even my very home, and I moved to Los Angeles in January 2003. I moved in with Bruce Willis and set about laying the groundwork for the auctioning, which took many months and included the development of a database for the sales records and the photographing and cataloging of all of the thousands of items he wanted to have liquidated.
Unfortunately, however, things didn't work out as I had anticipated and as my good friend had promised. The first big surprise and disappointment came when I returned home one day, about two weeks after my arrival in Los Angeles, only to find that the music recording studio that was in my good friend's house -- the one which he promised me that I could use to work on my music -- was gone, lock, stock and barrel, down to the last RCA jack. Apparently, Bruce had given it away to some organization in New York City. So that promise was a complete bust.
As for performing with his band, I explained to Inside Edition that, as time went on, we played fewer and fewer shows until that perk pretty much evaporated.
Of course, I was never offered any work from his film production company. My Oscar chances went out the window.
As for my lodgings, I was relegated to living in one tiny room of a house that hung precariously to the edge of a cliff after a landslide, with no amenities whatsoever (see below).
And so, all of the great perks my friend offered petered out into nothing.
But, most importantly, the lucrative auctioning job -- which was absolutely my main reason for going to Los Angeles -- never materialized. Over a period of many months, Bruce never gave me the authorization to begin this work. In fact, for whatever reason, he completely changed his mind about auctioning off his goods or, at least, about me being in charge of that task, despite the fact that I had spent a considerable amount of time, effort and energy transposing myself to LA and establishing the infrastructure necessary for the auctioning. I explained that I waited and waited for him to give me the go-ahead, querring him numerous times about it over a period of many months, but that he kept putting me off with all kinds of excuses.
And so, as time rolled on, instead of auctioning off his stuff - and making a lot of money - I found myself being relegated to the performance of sundry mundane labor tasks such as walking the dog, framing artwork, trouble-shooting computers and running errands. If he went out of town on business ventures and I happened to be invited along, he had me do things like set up his computer system and/or his portable music system in his hotel suite. I even found myself tutoring his kids from time to time, which, I must admit, I really didn't mind at all because I loved them like my own and, after all, I am a teacher. But, this low-level menial work certainly wasn't making me the kind of money I thought I was going to be making when I accepted his offer. Not even close. And, while I did make a tiny bit of money playing music in his band, the $350 per gig (see example pay stubs below) was a far cry from the few hundred thousand I was supposed to be earning according to our agreement.
Check for 3 gigs
Check for 2 gigs
Check for 1 gig
Check for 2 gigs
Check for 1 gig
The reader may have noticed that I got a raise of $150 by the end of my 4th year of performing with the Willis band (I actually started with him in the Fall of '01) and for that I was eternally grateful (LOL). I'm not sure if the other band members received the raise. From what I was told by them, they'd been getting the same stipend for the 10 years prior to my joining the ensemble. All of this is not to say that I was not grateful for the opportunity to play music in his band. I'll never forget the USO tour we did in Abu Dhabi, Iraq and Kuwait where we performed for our troops in the aftermath of the 2nd Gulf War.
Pic of Willis and me in the crowd during a concert at a Camp Arifjan Kuwait City, Kuwait, Sept. 28, 2003 (posted in 2003 on www.brucewillis.com).
(click here to see more pictures of Willis with the troops during that tour).
Weeks turned into months and then months turned into over a year and a half, and approaching two years and still the auctioning had not begun. I started to become quite dismayed and worried about it. I was spending large amounts from my savings and retirement on living expenses (it's very expensive in California) and on education expenses for my kids and not replenishing it with the anticipated income from the auctioning. The interviewer asked me why I didn't just pick up and leave and I responded that my friend kept giving me lots of indication that the auctioning would still happen. At one point, a little over a year or so into the ordeal, for instance, I told him I thought I should leave and he told me specifically that he didn't want me to leave, that he really wanted me to stay. Furthermore, as I said, I had uprooted myself at great expense and sacrifice and it would have been a huge financial setback for me, at that stage in my life, at my age, to leave California emptyhanded after having given up so much in order to take on the job, including sacrificing my entire financial livelihood. Also, it would have been a huge financial expense to relocate myself back East and to sustain myself during the time it would have taken to find work in academia, and, if you know anything about academic jobs, they are few and far between and it often takes months to get work in a new locality.
And so, I stayed, hoping that he would finally give me the go-ahead to begin the auctioning. But, as I said, he never did and I found myself doing more and more menial work or, as was the case on many days, doing absolutely nothing at all, a scenerio which may suit others just fine but not me, and those who know me understand this trait fully. I told the interviewer that even Bruce's kids didn't know what the heck I was doing there, living in their house, day after day, week after week, month after month, apparently doing nothing. One evening, for instance, at the dinner table, I was asked by Rumor, Bruce's oldest, "Brown (a nickname Bruce had given me), what exactly is it that you do?" and I really didn't know what to tell her. It was quite embarrassing for me. Ultimately, I found myself actively generating small helpful tasks just to keep myself busy and to justify my being there. "Isn't that crazy?", I asked the interviewer. There I was, being deprived of the lucrative job I was promised by my best friend, and I found myself feeling guilty for being there doing ostensibly nothing, even though it was not my fault at all that I was in that predicament.
I wanted to tell Ru that I carried his luggage into and out of hotels, I set up computer equipment and music systems in the suites, I framed artwork, I ran errands, I chauffeured, I even served a "body guard" role and watched out for the paparazzi and took action to prevent them from harassing her, her sisters, and my best friend.
I wanted to tell her that on many occasions her father asked me to read a script and give him feedback (a job for which people make good money in Hollywood), which I did, happily (mostly because it gave me something analytical to do with my mind) but with no remuneration. I once provided her Da Da, for instance, with an analysis of memory and amnesia (my Ph.D. specialty), as he was considering a script on that topic, with Diane Lane. The script was replete with innaccuracy, which I pointed out. Willis passed on the script. I guess I'll never know what that was worth.
I wanted to tell her that I provided her daddy's band with superb harmonica playing (LOL), emotional spark, and untold musical ideas. The whole Krispie Kreme gag, for instance, which brought much-needed levity to the show and smiles to thousands of faces and donuts to many bellies, was all mine. Bruce would introduce me as the founder and CEO of Krispie Kreme, the donut giant. Soon, it began to be reported widely, even in military-related publications, that the head of KK was in his band.
She and her dear sisters might also be pleased to discover that their father took it upon himself to utilize the Gumby joke routine, which I wrote, during the final scene of the HBO special, a mock interview of "Bruno", by comedian Dom Irrera. In that scene, "Bruno" claims to be the inventor of the flexible toy figure, Gumby. While I was tickled that their dad would use my material, I never was actually compensated monetarily for it.
She also probably didn't know that I performed (and acted) on that famous Seagram's Golden Wine Cooler commercial (click to watch it), the one with her Pop, singing on a porch with three guys, including a harmonica player, which was me. Good thing I didn't mention it for I would have felt compelled to tell her that I actually had to audition for that job! Nor was she likely to be aware of the fact that, years prior, I came up with the harmonica part for the song, " Respect Yourself (click to watch it)", which her dad recorded with the Pointer Sisters. In fact, the whole idea for harmonica in that song came from me. Producer, Robert Kraft, will attest to that. It made the song, in my humble harmonic opinion.
I wanted to tell Rumor and her sisters about my comical contributions to their father's web page, brucewillis.com, on which I received thousands of appreciative comment posts from fans. I wanted to tell them that I even provided jokes for their dear Papa to perform on David Letterman -- it is I who came up with the hilarious " Self-Heimlich Maneuver (click to watch it)", which I created and demonstrated to Willis in front of at least 10 people (Accelerators musicians and other crew, like David Boyd, Josh Drexler, and Stephen Eads), who were in his master suite in Austin, Texas, when we performed there in January, 2002, on the evening of the show. The hospitality had provided huge trays of sausage in the suite, which provided perfect chunks of food for me to demonstrate the joke.
I also came up with the gut-busting invention, the " Bruce Willis Lean Mean CD Opening Machine (click to watch it)" (a sledge hammer in a box) (which aired during Season 10, Episode 98, on which Willis served as guest host since Letterman had an eye issue). Me, Bruce Willis, and Stephen Eads were in the car in LA, headed to the airport to board his jet bound for NYC, when I presented the idea to Willis. Both Willis and Eads liked the idea a lot. Apparently, one of them made a call to the Letterman people and presented the idea and those fine folks set about the task of working up the prop for the gag, which was ready for the taping that very night. I was impressed.
The Bruce Willis Lean Mean CD Opening Machine
I even wanted to tell dear Rumor that, the fact of the matter is, going way back to the early days -- before she was even born -- the very concept of her father doing "inventions" on the David Letterman show was mine and that many of the early ones came directly from me, (i.e., the shoulder ash tray, the rake bumper, pre-stained undies, to name a few off the top of my head) and that nobody ever paid me a nickle for it. Beating the dead horse of sameness in typical fashion, the gag continues to be used to this day, albeit the proverbial bottom of the barrel appears to have been scraped pretty clean -- see the latest offering " exploding underpants (click to watch it)". I suppose I should be flattered that my idea continues to be employed -- and exploited -- by my old best friend after all these years but it's really no surprise since, as my old best friend knows quite well, good entertainment ideas are very hard to come by.
I wanted to tell Rumor, Lula, and Scout also that I was, at the time, co-writing a few movie ideas with their famous father and that the outcome could be worth millions to her father and, indirectly, to them (not that it would have mattered much to kids who stand to inherit an amount that surpasses the GNP of most countries but, to me, it was important, as it would be to most average people). These movie ideas became major points of contention in our business dispute. But, I didn't know they would be at the time sweet Rumor asked me her question. Of course, I had no idea that it would eventually be demanded of me that I relinquish all interest in those ideas in order to receive compensation for the failed auctioning work. Hence, these ideas - and their potential worth - were at the core of our dispute and I doubt if Rumer or her sisters to this day knows anything about them. Thus, our lawsuit was not just about $100,000 in definite debt that their father owed me.
Instead of delving into any of the above-mentioned things, I merely told her, "I do work for your father", which wasn't really true because, at that point, her father still had not followed through on our auctioning deal and I wasn't being paid yet (sorry for lying, dear Rumor...).
So, the bottom line is, I made myself as useful as I could, either on my own or when called upon by my buddy/boss, to fill the time whilst awaiting the start of my real work -- the auctioning.
I explained to Inside Edition that, at one point, in 2004, something very significant happened which made me come to doubt completely whether the auctioning would ever begin for me. Earlier, in 2003, Bruce told me he wanted to sell two of his cars -- a 62 Vet and a 98 Rolls -- which gave me hope that finally I would begin doing what I was hired to do. I made suggestions about how I thought the sale of the cars should take place. It was my firm conviction that they should be sold over the Internet, on eBay, so as to hit millions of potential Bruce Willis fans and vintage car collectors worldwide, as opposed to the suggestion made by another of Bruce's main servant employees, David Boyd, that the cars be sold in a private exclusive auction house in Florida (I believe it was Christie's). After all, that's why he hired me - because of my Internet auctioning experience.
We went back and forth on this issue for about a week and then I didn't hear anything more about those cars or their sale until, a couple months later, I happened to have a conversation with Mr. Boyd who proceeded to tell me that he had just recently returned from Florida where he had taken the two cars to sell in the auction house discussed and that, together, the two cars fetched $360,000. I explained to the interviewer that I was shocked, purplexed, taken aback, and in complete disbelief. I felt that this was wrong, and that, number one, I should have been the one to go down there and, number two, I should have received at the very least a commission on the sales, in accordance with my deal with Bruce Willis. That commission would have surmounted to $36,000, a sum worthy of suing somebody over, for certain.
So, not only was I still not doing any auctioning, but now, it seemed, auctioning was going on behind my proverbial back, and other people were doing it, thereby depriving me of the commissions I was supposed to receive. I explained to Inside Edition that this act was an outright breech of our contractual agreement and that, by all rights, I should have taken the matter to court. As I said above, I should have been the one to sue first but I chose not to as, unlike some people we know, I am completely adverse to the idea of best friends suing best friends. I honestly thought we could work it out civilly.
Incidentally, Willis eventually sold five of the other eight vehicles I was hired to sell at Bonhams and Butterfield auction house on October 25, 2008.
THESE ARE THE VEHICLES I WAS HIRED BY WILLIS TO SELL:
see Willis muscle car auction video ad here
55 Bel Aire Nomad (wagon) - $46,800
57 Vet (conver) - $79,560
67 Vet (Sting) - $150,000
68 Shelby Cobra GT500 (conver) - $161,000
69 Charger (coup) - $86,580
The total fetched for these five cars was $523,940 and, when added to the $360,000 for the two cars sold in Florida (the 62 Vet and the 98 Rolls) and an estimated $100,000 expected for the 68 Firebird 400 (conver)
the grand total for Willis' vehicles was nearly one million dollars. My commission would have been 10% of that total or about $100,000, precisely the amount I felt he owed me and for which I asked him and which he absolutely refused to pay, claiming instead that I was trying to shake him down. Of course, I would have earned much much more than this amount from the sale of the millions of dollars worth of other expensive items Bruce Willis hired me to sell.
I could not give the interviewer any explanation when she asked me what I thought might have changed Bruce's mind about me and the auctioning and/or why he would have chosen to send someone else to perform the duties that he had hired me to perform, and, although I told her I had my suspicions, I chose not to elaborate on them at that time, in that interview, as I felt it would not have been appropriate, especially if Bruce and I were to end up hashing out the matter in open court, which I did not fear and in which I had the utmost confidence I would prevail were it to go that far, but which I sincerely wanted to avoid for a zillion obvious reasons, not the least of which would have been the unsavoriness of the airing of our private disputes across the globe.
And so, after the discovery of the clandestine auctioning of his cars in Florida, and after months and months of being put off and put off by him, it seemed like the writing was on the proverbial wall for me. Nevertheless, I held onto a timy glimmer of hope that everything would work out as we rolled into 2005. In the Spring, however, he invited me to go to Canada with him for the shooting of 16 Blocks and the auctioning was delayed yet again.
I went with Bruce to the 16 Blocks movie set every day and I began casually videotaping behind the scenes with my small Sony hand-camera, more or less for my own personal enjoyment and to keep from being bored. Then Bruce and I tossed around the idea of me taping "behind the scenes" footage. He bought me a hi-definition Sony digital camera - or so I thought he had bought it for me - and I began video taping regularly on the set and doing light interviews with the cast and crew. Later, we discussed the idea for a "making of" DVD with the producers and Bruce arranged a deal with them for me to receive what amounted to about $5000 for four months work, with me being on the set nearly every shooting day. I ended up shooting well over 60 odd hours of footage. While the job and the wage were appreciated, the amount I received was a pittance compared to what I should have been making and, besides, it didn't come from Bruce's pocket.
ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH:
Eventually, by the end of Summer, 2005, I told Bruce that I did not wish to hang around any longer, being an ostensible part of his entourage, that my money and patience had run out and that I really wanted to get on with my life. I decided to leave and I asked him to provide me with a compensation package, including enough money to cover all of my sacrifices, all the expenses I incurred in moving out to LA, all of my considerable time invested, the loss of income, the loss of health benefits, the loss of retirement contributions, etc., etc. I came up with the figure $100,000, which was, in my very humble opinion, extremely fair and, in actuality, far below what I would have earned had he followed through with the auctioning. My commission on the first two cars sold in Florida alone, for instance, would have been about $20,000, and there were six other very expensive cars he still wanted to sell (which, as already mentioned, brought in about one million dollars), not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of other very valuable, very expensive Bruce Willis personal items he had told me he wanted to unload. He even said he would autograph everything, which would have, of course, increased the sale prices considerably. The compensation was even more justified because I would be leaving LA with no job, no income, no place to live, and my money reserves severely depleated, all because the auctioning job he enticed me to California to orchestrate never materialized because, as I said, he cancelled it.
I explained that his reaction to my ernest request for what I believed was fair, just and reasonable compensation for the reneged auctioning job was, at first, complete rejection - he didn't want to give me a single red nickle - and then, subsequently, to file a harebrained lawsuit against me and accuse me of trying to "shake him down", most probably, I speculate, at the advice and urging of his pit bull attorney, Martin Singer, into whose hands he plopped the matter and who certainly lived up to his reputation as an "attack dog" (according to his own biography on his corporate website, on which he is referred to as "Martin D. 'Mad Dog' Singer"). Like a good little attack dog, and on my good friend's command, he went straight for my jugular in this matter.
THE FALSE ACCUSATIONS:
The lawsuit was pretty vicious and, as I said above, it was full of sickening untruths. In fact, the only truth in the entire suit was the fact that I was hired by Bruce to work for him. Period. Everything else - every accusation and characterization - was false. Take note of the fact that there was absolutely no reference whatsoever to our auctioning agreement in the lawsuit.
They made the silly claim, for instance, that I was "hired to organize Bruce's family photos". I asked the interviewer if she could see the absolute absurdity of this claim. I asked her to try to imagine what university professor in his or her right mind would completely abandon his or her life and career as a respected educator and researcher, and uproot his or her entire life and existance, and move halfway across the globe to Los Angeles for the soul purpose of organizing someone's photographs, even if that person did happen to be a rich and famous movie star? I suggested that none would, so ludicrous was the claim.
The lawsuit went on to assert that I withheld some of his photos and threatened to exploit them unless I received the so-called "shake down" money (and, of course, the new car that I am accused of demanding). Well, point blank - that is simply a fat lie and there is not one single shred of evidence to that effect. Yes, he had me organize some of his photos on his computer, and yes he had me scan some old theatrical photographs from his early career, and, yes, from time to time, he called upon me to burn some photos onto DVDs (all examples of the sort of mundane jobs he threw at me in lieu of auctioning). But, without a doubt - and I made this denial absolute, unequivocal, and in no uncertain terms - at no time did I ever threatened in any way, shape, or form, to do anything with them and that preposterous allegation, upon reading it in the lawsuit, made me absolutely sick to my stomach and I have a pretty strong stomach.
I explained that the real issue with "photographs" was very different from the pathetic depiction made in the lawsuit. During my 2.5 year stay with Bruce I, personally, snapped THOUSANDS of photos - some of him, some of him and me, some of the band, some of us with the band, some of his kids, some of us and his kids, some of him and his kids, some on movie sets, some on promo tours, etc. etc. I explained that these photos were legally mine - I owned the copyrights to all of them, as would ANY photographer because photography, after all, is no different from any other type of artistic endeavor and the photographer who snaps the photos owns all the rights to her work unless, of course, she agrees beforehand otherwise. Bruce and I never had any sort of agreement regarding photos either before or after my arrival in California and he never ever restricted me in any way - EVER - from snapping photos. Furthermore, I said that the world would see clear evidence of his willing participation in my photography, were we go to court, by his smiling face in my photos.
And so, the real dispute over "photographs" was not at all over those few which Bruce already owned outright and to which I had had limited access, and which I would never be able to sell - even if I were inclined to - because I did not own the copyrights to them. On the contrary, the real issue was over the many many photos which I had snapped myself while I was in his purview and to which he never objected, and which I owned (and am completely convinced that any judge or jury in the nation would agree I own were we to go to court over the matter). And, even if I had informed him that I was going to sell my photos for money - WHICH I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT DO AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT I DID - it would have been my absolute Constitutional right to do so.
Moreover, the appearance of a charge involving photographs was a perplexing shock to me because, the fact of the matter is, Bruce and I had never had, at any time, either before our disputes, when we were "best friends", or especially during our compensation disagreement negotiations, any discussion or argumentation whatsoever over photographs. Not one single word was ever uttered about photos that he owned, photos that I owned or any photos at all, for that matter. And then, suddenly, out of the clear blue left field, the lawsuit is filed and it contained these absolutely hideous and vile accusations regarding photographs. It was a complete and sheer misrepresentation of reality.
"Why would his side make such a false claim?", I was asked. My response was that it is my best guess that the move was probably nothing more than standard generic Hollywood legal operating procedure to make such base accusations against adversaries, and it was designed pretty obviously to make me look like a typical scumbag Hollywood blackmailer. Kudos to his legal team for sticking to the proverbial book. Unfortunately, they underestimated my full willingness to take the matter to court where the Willis team would have verified with their own complete lack of evidence that their accusation was wholly fabricated, completely groundless, and entirely unfounded. It was, in fact, an outright prevarication and I would have proven that fact in court had we gone there. I would have proven that the real issue was about MY PHOTOGRAPHS, not his.
Demand For A Car
There also was an allegation in the lawsuit that I demanded, in addition to the "shakedown" money, a brand new car. Well, in line with all the other frivolous claims, that claim was also complete and utter nonsense and I explained the truth of the matter as follows:
On my birthday in January 2005, Bruce had told me that he was going to buy me a car - a "late model" car to be exact (meaning "used" and not new) - for my birthday. A nice gesture, I explained. A car is a great gift, whether it's a new one or a used one. However, weeks and months went by and, by the Fall of that year, he still hadn't followed through with his automotive gift. I explained that, in one of my emails to Bruce during my attempts to get him to compensate me, I had mentioned many things in addition to the failed auctioning job about which I felt great dissappointment, including, specifically, this reneged birthday car and, in fact, subsequently, at a later stage in our negotiations, Bruce made an offer that consisted of a small amount of money (relenting from his initial offer of zero dollars) as well as a car (one of his used, gas-guzzling SUVs from his fleet, to be exact).
Naturally, I explained, I was quite disappointed that my best friend would be offering, as part of my compensation package, an item that he had promised as a birthday present just a few months before and then, later, I was doubly shocked to see that HIS offer of an automobile had somehow gotten twisted around and had wound up in his lawsuit as something that I had demanded as part of my purported "shake down", which is about as far from the truth as an amoeba's brain is from a human's or even a rat's, all three of which I happen to know a lot about. There is no evidence that I demanded a car, ever, from my good friend, Bruce Willis. And so, the long and short of the car situation is that it was nothing more than what was obviously a contorted and purposeful twist of the facts designed to embarrass, denigrate and defame. It was bordering on shameful.
The interviewer went on to ask me about the accusation that I had written "a lie-filled book about Bruce that would embarrass him" and that I threatened to expose this lie-filled embarassing book to the world and I told her that that claim was equally preposterous and that the only thing "lie-filled" is his lawsuit. She asked me why I thought Bruce would make such a horrible and damaging accusation and the only thing I could come up with at the time was "paranoia", which is what I told her. I explained that, if I were indeed inclined to write a book about Bruce Willis that, first of all, it would be my absolute U.S. Constitutional right to do so -- so there would have been absolutely no legal violation there -- and, second, it wouldn't need to be "lie-filled", as there were tons and tons of things I experienced with him, spanning nearly 40 years of what now seems to have been "pseudo-bestfriendship", that are very much real. This "lie-filled book" claim was the centerpoint of their lawsuit and it was simply not true. If the motivating force behind my public drawing and quartering was, indeed, paranoia, as I speculated, the Inside Edition viewer and the rest of the world are left to speculate about what was behind that paranoia.
Though I never wrote an embarassing book about my best friend, I have done a lot of writing and, in the year or so before our dispute, I had written a screenplay about an alien invader. Bruce, as well as a couple people in his inner circle, knew all along that I was writing the screenplay (I'd work on it in plain view, on the plane during travel and in the hotel suites, for instance). I even submitted it to Bruce's former business manager and former partner in their now-defunct Cheyenne Entertainment film production company. He and his subordinates read the script and gave me feedback. He told me it would be hard to sell because it would be far too expensive a movie to make and that the industry was currently interested in inexpensive comedy scripts like Dumb and Dumber and Wedding Crashers. He suggested I write it as a book first. I took his suggestion and wrote a long treatment and a couple critical chapters. I had begun to contact publishers and literary agents about the screenplay/book around the time of our dispute. Letters to them went out in the mail from Bruce's Mullholland house where I was living. They were left in plain view in the out-going mail area for all to see, although no one knew the contents of the letters. I am not sure if Bruce, himself, ever saw any of the letters but the possibility exists that someone who did see them may have mentioned it to him after our dispute began. Bruce's left hand man, Stephen Eads, knew for sure that I had written a book because I told him about it and that I was hawking it (he and I actually discussed writing a lot and, in fact, he had me read and critique a script for a TV sit com which he co-wrote with another guy). I'm guessing this may have been part of the "misinformation" Willis received which led him to crucify me with his ghastly lawsuit and to which he subsequently admitted and acknowledged was the reason behind his legal blunder (see his press release statement below).
As for the claim in the lawsuit that I refused to vacate Bruce's premises -- where I was being "allowed to live for free" -- I explained that, first of all, I was not living there "for free" but, rather, the truth is that room and board was part of my original auctioning deal with him. Second, I explained that the particular house in which I lived was practically condemned months before the lawsuit and his preposterous claim that I refused to vacate. As can be seen clearly in the picture I, myself, took, the property had suffered a terrible landslide following several weeks of heavy rain in December and January of 2004-05, which undermined the foundation of the dwelling itself and which threatened to send the entire structure down the very steep canyon. One whole wing of the house was absolutely and dangerously unlivable.
The landslide at the Willis house. Note perilous position of master bedroom.
View down the canyon where tons of Willis property went tumbling.
Fifty-foot trees in the front yard were pulverized, with no trace left behind.
The edge of the abyss that once was Willis front lawn.
This house was in Laurel Canyon,
about a mile or so from the Willis residence.
It slid down the hill.
My beautiful riverfront view and pool
A "stolen" video camera
Bruce Willis' lawsuit against me contained a claim that I "stole" and refused to return to Willis a video camera. I informed the interviewer that that claim was pure cockamamie poppycock. The truth is, Willis bought the camera for me while we were in Canada in 2005. I used it to film him while he was working on the movie, 16 Blocks, but he definitely bought it for me and I had no idea that he wanted it back until he filed his lawsuit. Not he nor anybody else -- not once -- ever asked for it back beforehand. He simply included the insulting claim in his lawsuit and that is how I first learned about his accusation and that he wanted the camera back. Naturally, I was astounded to hear this heartbreaking accusation, just as I was astounded to hear his accusation about my birthday car (described above). Once again, a gift appeared in the lawsuit. For the record, once I learned about his desire to have the camera returned, I did so through his go-fer guy, David Boyd, about a week after the filing of the lawsuit and I told the interviewer this. I told her, if there was ever any question in my mind over whether or not he indeed had bought the camera for me, it was answered in a telephone conversation with him in the Fall of 2005, during the early phase of our attempt to resolve our dispute and before he handed the matter over to his pack of hungry, frothing lawyers, when he reiterated that fact when he said, and I quote, "I bought that camera for you." (note: photo of me and Mos Def on the set of 16 Blocks by set still photographer, Eva V. Gerlitz)
NO CRIMINAL CHARGES FILED
I should also like to point out here that all of the above things that Willis and his pack of lawyers accused me of doing are illegal. And yet, no attempt was ever made to contact the authorities to have me prosecuted criminally for committing those crimes. In fact, I was never contacted, interviewed, detained nor arrested for any of the hideous crimes of which I stood accused, which seems rather odd to me and makes me wonder why not. I can only guess that it might have something to do with a complete lack of evidence.
We haggled for months, the pitbull and I, from August 2006 to January 2007, with me representing myself legally throughout. I prepared and presented a countersuit (a.k.a. cross-complaint), as a matter of courtesy, prior to filing it (a tactic frequently undertaken in the legal world so as to avoid very ugly and painful and extremely costly court battles, which this one surely would have been). Ultimately, the Mad Dog, forced to consider the actual facts, and faced with the very significant threat of a severe countersuit, calmed down and we were able to reach a fair resolution to our disputes, including the complete dropping of the lawsuit and the unequivocal clearing of my previously unblemished good name. The attack dog admitted openly that BW was, indeed, indebted to me. Needless to say, that was a happy day for me for it meant that I was instantly exonerated from the horrid charges he had orchestrated against me. Plus, to compensate me for wrongfully damaging my reputation with his misguided and inappropriate lawsuit, and to avoid the filing of my countersuit, Bruce Willis proffered a generous settlement to me, which I accepted and which included fair dispensation of the potentially very lucrative intellectual property which Bruce Willis and I had generated and worked on together. The resolution of this property was a major issue because, as I had explained to Inside Edition, at one point in our negotiations/discussions, prior to the filing of the defamatory lawsuit, I had been asked to release my stake in that property, which I didn't feel like doing as I am loath to giving up my ideas for free, especially when those ideas could be worth a fortune.
On January 30th, 2007, Bruce Willis withdrew his lawsuit against me "with prejudice" (see "Lawsuit Dismissed" below and, in case you do not know, "with prejudice" means that Willis is forever barred from instigating a new case on the same basis as the dismissed case) and released to the Associated Press and Reuters international news agencies, through his publicist, Paul Bloch, of Rogers and Cowan, a statement exonerating me of all charges alleged in his ridiculous lawsuit.
Following is the full text of that statement released by Willis:
In short, in releasing this statement, Willis now acknowledges that:
1) There was a business agreement between the two of us, and
2) That we had a dispute over that agreement, and
3) That the dispute - and NOT shakedown - led to the filing of the lawsuit and
4) That he was misinformed and misunderstood things and that the filing of the lawsuit was based upon those misunderstandings and that misinformation and that he now regrets doing it, which is why he completely withdrew the lawsuit.
I certainly agree that it is regrettable. It was a painful mistake for that lawsuit to have been filed, to be sure. It was repleat with untruths and, as I suggested to Inside Edition, I should have been the one to file a lawsuit first as I believed with all my heart that I was being wronged. I chose not to because it was my best friend I was in a dispute with. But, everybody makes regrettable mistakes, including famous actors and their pitbull lawyers, and I hereby want the world to know that I don't hold any grudges against my old friend, former best man at my wedding, and Godfather to my children. On the contrary, I hereby encourage everyone, including my close personal friends, family members, countless colleagues and professional associates, and the thousands of students who have crossed my podium, to forget about this mistake, like I am doing. I don't want any fans of mine or his to let this regrettable fiasco influence their opinion of him or other rich, famous and powerful Hollywood actors who hire expensive pit bull lawyers who attack at a snap. Sometimes regrettable things happen in life, sometimes folks get the wrong information and/or misinterpret things and act inappropriately and take legal action when it is ill-advised and unjustified. But, as reasoned adults, we must have the maturity to let such mistakes go and to let by-gones be by-gones.
Am I happy I was wrongly sued by my best friend and had to spend over a year of my life coping with a debt dispute and a regrettable lawsuit in which my very good and honorable name was horribly defamed and besmirched across the globe? No, of course not - I was absolutely, morally - and legally - right to seek the compensation that I sought -- the pit bull, himself, ultimately agreed Willis owed it to me, telling me so directly, verbally, over the phone. The compensation was more than fair when one takes into consideration all that I had sacrificed in order to make the move to California to do a job that I never outwardly sought but which was offered to me by my very good friend (in fact, I can honestly say that I never asked my best friend movie star for a single thing, ever -- never asked for a job, never asked to be in a movie or on TV, never asked to be in his band, never asked for a place to live, never asked for a used gas-guzzling SUV. He offered those things with no prompt whatsoever from me).
I suppose you could say I am as satisfied as I could be, under the circumstances, with the way things worked out -- as I said, he relented and I accepted his generous settlement offer. And, I suppose that he is to be commended for having the courage to admit the horrible miscue and for taking the necessary action to set the record straight, including the public proclaimation of the mistake and the clearing of my good and honorable name. Certainly, I wish that the entire fiasco had never happened and that my old friend and harmonica buddy had taken the time to think longer and harder about whether he should take such a despicable path in his attempt to resolve our simple business dispute (the total value of which was somewhere in the neighborhood of about a half an hour's worth of gambling at the craps table).
I wish him and his entire family, whom I still love, all the best, especially his mother and father.
As for pitbulls...
Well, pitbulls maul people. It's what they do. They can't be faulted for that, I suppose. They attack and disfigure when their high fallootin' owner tells them to, unless it was the other way around and the pit bull told the high fallootin' owner that he ought be set loose to attack and the high fallootin' owner didn't know any better and went along with the il-advised recommendation, which ultimately ended up as a major embarrassment to the owner -- how many people renege on a job offer with their best friend and then accuse the best friend of shaking him down when the best friend merely seeks just and legal compensation?
And so, with the dropping of the lawsuit and Willis's release of the aforementioned public statement, I consider my previously un-besmirched name and reputation cleared and exonerated of the erroneous, unfounded and hideous charges made against them. The charges were hideous, to be sure. But, once again, none were true. Not a single one.
Lastly, and by the way, there is one other thing I disclosed to Inside Edition in my interview. I told them that, if I were, indeed, actually inclined to risk the total decimation of my previously un-besmirched good name and reputation as a dignified university professor - who has worked twenty-five long hard years building a staunch reputation of integrity and respect - and if I were indeed inclined to risk the total embarrassment and humiliation that would surely befall me as well as my three absolutely wonderful children and everyone else in my family tree who I love very much, by shaking down a person who is responsible for well over eight and a half billion dollars worth of movie ticket sales worldwide and whose net worth is somewhere in the neighborhood of upwards of nine figures, with the first figure being above a five, and who earns, according to some estimates on the Internet, around 40 million per movie...
and who owns well over a hundred million dollars worth of prime real estate (click me to see MSN.com report on same)...
I can assure you, I would not have done so for the mere sum of $100,000 (oh yes, and a used car) purported in the lawsuit. No sir.
I would have gone for AT LEAST $110,000...
No -- I think I said $120,000... and a BOAT, not a used car...
no, check that, a twenty-four-footer...
with an inboard toilet in case I get sick to my stomach and need to vomit (for instance, whenever people file hideous, vile, unwarranted and damaging lawsuits against me)...
I wanted to make it absolutely clear to the interviewer - and to the world - that I have absolute minimum standards for the risk of complete and utter ruination of my good family name and respected reputation.
P.S. No one has apologized to me for the shameful insult to my personage. The decision maker(s) must not be able to understand the degree, depth, and extent of the hurt caused by their trigger-happy action. I suppose no one can really understand that but me. I suppose one has to have been on the receiving end of such an unjust public flogging to fully grasp how it might affect a dignified person, such as myself. Who knows? Maybe one day.
P.S. Apparently, Dr. DiMattia is not the only one with whom Mr. Willis has breached a contract. He was sued in early 2009 in Los Angeles by Foresight Unlimited, Signature Entertainment Group and Three Stories Productions for breachihg his film contract with those entities. Not sure how it panned out or if he has been found guilty of that charge. I suppose he should be assumed innocent until proven guilty, which is what his side and the media (I was duly lambasted by them, as if I simply must be guilty for why else would such a great guy as Bruce Willis sue his best friend?) should have done in my case, but, alas, didn't.
P.S. A word about memorabilia. As I described above, I lived with Mr. Willis for well over two years and during that time he was in major "purge mode" and he unloaded onto me numerous personal items that he didn't want any more -- lots of personal clothing items (suits, shirts, ties, jackets, coats, pants, watches, you name it), computer stuff, movie memorabilia, TV memorabilia, and many many other personal items. Furthermore, I collected numerous memorabilia items during my travels with his band -- many of which are personal Willis items, i.e., things he didn't want any more and either gave to me directly or items which I happened to hold onto (such as, song lyrics which he wrote out gave to me to type or photocopy for the band. Things like that.) I am making most of this Bruce Willis memorabilia available for sale via auction, mostly on ebay. Keep your eyes open for those sales under by ebay name, brucevd. Anyone interested in being notified when I place such personal Bruce Willis items up for sale on eBay should send me an email at the above address.
This is the document which I filed in Santa Monica Superior Court to
proclaim my absolute denial of all accusations in the lawsuit
(incidentally, "Plaintiff in Pro Per", for those who don't know,
means that I represented myself throughout all negotiations with Mad Dog).
This is the document filed by Martin D. Singer in Santa Monica
Superior Court to drop the lawsuit against me.