Lee Daniels: ‘Madonna Can’t Save Sean Penn Lawsuit’
Lee Daniels has filed for a dismissal of Sean Penn’s $10 million defamation lawsuit against him, insisting the actor’s ex-wife Madonna’s support statement holds no weight in the case. In September, the Milk star filed papers with the State Supreme Court of New York, alleging filmmaker Daniels made “false and defamatory statements” about him in relation to domestic abuse, while defending Terrence Howard after his Empire leading man confessed to lashing out at his ex-wives in a Hollywood Reporter interview.
To support his case, Penn called on the pop star to formally state he never abused her, and in December, he filed an amended complaint featuring a declaration under oath from Madonna that he never hit her during their relationship. She also referenced accusations of abuse during an incident in 1989, which allegedly resulted in Penn’s arrest for domestic assault and battery. Her statement read: “Sean has never struck me, tied me up, or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless, and false.” Penn also stated in the amended lawsuit that Daniels “defamatory conduct” is not protected by the First Amendment On Tuesday, the Empire co-creator filed the dismissal, which read: “Dismissal is required because the core of the complaint – that Daniels wronged Penn by falsely comparing Penn to someone else – is constitutionally (to quote Penn’s iconic movie character Jeff Spicoli) “bogus.” In the papers obtained by Billboard, Daniels maintains that Penn had been plagued with abuse rumors long before his interview with the Hollywood Reporter writing: “A quarter century of unchallenged explicit, reputation-tarnishing media coverage on Penn’s coverage on Penn’s alleged domestic abuse vitiates any reasoned suggestion that Daniels acted with actual malice.” “The comments are pre-dated by decades of spine-chilling accounts of Penn’s alleged violent abuse of his ex-wife Madonna.” He goes on to cite a “lurid account of Penn’s domestic terror” from the 1991 book, Madonna Unauthorized. Daniels also is enacting California’s anti-SLAPP law, which prevents legal action taken against First Amendment-protected statements, despite the fact the lawsuit comes in New York. In response to Daniels new filing, Penn’s attorney Mathew Rosengart fired back in a statement which read: “Mr. Daniels should be ashamed of himself. The Madonna Affidavit conclusively and incontrovertibly demonstrates that Daniels’ statements were false, reckless, and defamatory, and he has no defense to it. Instead, his motion represents a sophomoric, and desperate, effort to stave off a trial, which we look forward to conducting, in order to hold Daniels liable for his egregious misconduct.”