“#Legal brawl gets ugly between Hollywood producers Roy Lee, John Powers Middleton”
John Powers Middleton, producer of Oscar-winning movies “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Disaster Artists,” filed a fresh batch of legal papers on Wednesday against his estranged business partner Roy Lee, accusing the horror flick producer of freely indulging in drugs and hookers.
Lee, a 51-year-old Hollywood mogul whose credits include the “It” horror-movie franchise, has a “tendency to blur the line between business and illicit pleasure,” according to Middleton’s latest court papers.
“Lee indulges his penchant for drugs and prostitutes, regularly taking the narcotic ecstasy and sharing it with business associates while frequenting overseas brothels and private Karaoke lounges in Koreatown as part of ‘business meetings,’” according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court filing.
The seamy salvo is the latest in a months-long legal battle between Middletown — the 36-year-old son of tobacco magnate and Philadelphia Phillies co-owner John S. Middleton — and Lee over more than $9 million in allegedly unpaid bills and other damages.
The latest papers seek to quash Lee’s mudslinging countersuit, filed last month, which paints Middleton as a rich party boy who peed in the pants in front of Lee’s business contacts at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
Lawyers for Middleton deny that ever happened and blasted Lee’s claims as “ironic” given his own “personal proclivities” for hardcore partying.
Middleton initially sued “The Ring” executive producer in August, claiming he never made good on their production deal, which stipulated that if Middleton paid Lee’s yearly overhead expenses up to $300,000, he would get a 20-percent cut of Lee’s producer fees and would be entitled to executive producer credits.
Aside from producer fees, Middleton claims he is owed more than $7 million for Lee’s use of his Malibu mansion, a chartered yacht for the Cannes Films Festival and NFC Championship tickets, which were meant to reel in clients.
“Instead, Lee used the millions of dollars of benefits to enrich himself, and advance his own career and business interests, live a globe-trotting luxury highlife, and to create the appearance of wealth and success to enhance his own personal and professional reputation and esteem within the entertainment industry,” court papers said Wednesday.
“Unaware of Lee’s calculated deception, Middleton even generously loaned Lee $200,000 to pay for his child’s private school tuition – a debt Lee never repaid.”
Lee, whose past credits also include “The Lego Movie” and “The Departed,” punched back with a countersuit that claimed Middleton had breached their contract by botching business deals through “embarrassing behavior” at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
Lee claimed that a “black-out drunk” Middleton returned to their yacht and “stumbled through a glass door, breaking the door and cutting his hand on a broken shard” after a hard-partying night with people he said were friends of actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Shortly thereafter, Middleton “went into a hysterical fit and started crying,” in front of several of Lee’s business contacts, the suit claims. During his “outburst,” he “urinated in his pants,” the suit claimed.
Middleton had a “substance abuse” problem and was in and out of rehab, Lee said. He also stalked a woman he “claimed” was his girlfriend by hiring a private eye and attempting to hack her phone and emails, court papers said.
“All he truly desired was the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle, which would allow him to rub shoulders with famous movie stars and executives,” the countersuit said, adding that Middleton still owes Lee nearly $90,000 in overhead payments from their deal including damages.
In Wednesday’s filing, Middleton’s legal team noted that despite the allegations about his behavior in Cannes, Lee later extended his three-year-contract with Middleton for another three years. They have moved to strike portions of Lee’s countersuit, calling many of the allegations “false and malicious.”
Lawyers for Lee could not be reached for comment.
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