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Publicist: HFPA Head Put Himself Ahead of Haiti Earthquake Victims

The lawsuit filed on Thursday against the Hollywood Foreign Press Association by the group’s former publicist Michael Russell is a juicy read. Especially beginning on page eight.

Russell alleges that after a car was donated by Chrysler for the 2010 Golden Globes, to be signed by celebs on the red carpet and auctioned off to benefit victims of the Haiti earthquake in partnership with LA charity Stars for a Cause, the effort became a problem for HFPA President Philip Berk. Alleges Russell in his Superior Court complaint:

Berk suddenly became opposed to Stars for a Cause and [organization founder] Braustein’s involvement with the Chrysler charity campaign… Berk was upset, as he wanted to receive benefits directly from Chrysler, and Stars for a Cause was only giving the proceeds from the charity to charity and not to Berk…

Berk and HFPA board member Frances Shoenberger carried out their defamatory phone and email campaign by contacting representatives of Chrysler, NBC, Dick Clark Productions, Entertainment Tonight (Stars for a Cause’s media partner) and Access Hollywood. Berk and Shoenberger made false claims about the charity, and claimed that Stars had been sued by the Cunard Line. This was a false statement.

Shortly after all this, Russell was given his walking papers after 17 years as the HFPA’s publicist. Back in 2002, German journalist Schoenberger was reported to have hit another HFPA member at a posh New York restaurant during a Gangs of New York related event.

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