Vincent Gallo Can't Block Embarrassing Audio

- Court News Service

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 By DON DEBENEDICTIS

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A judge has blocked actor-director Vincent Gallo's lawsuit against a Japanese journalist, so the reporter's allegedly secretly taped recording of Gallo insulting several Hollywood heavyweights will remain posted online.
     Gallo sued Hikari Takano in May for making public a recording of him "mocking Francis Ford Coppola's weight" and harshly criticizing Spike Jones, Sofia Coppola and Eric and Julia Roberts.
     After other websites reposted his comments, Gallo said, he lost work and Francis Ford Coppola refused his phone calls, according to Takano's attorney Jeffrey Lewis, with Broedlow Lewis in Rolling Hills Estates.
     Superior Court Judge William Fahey on July 13 granted Lewis's anti-SLAPP motion, finding the lawsuit had been filed years after the statute of limitations ran out.
     Under California's "single publication rule," Fahey wrote ruled, "the statute of limitations begins to run at the time the offending statement is first distributed to the general public, regardless of when the plaintiff becomes aware of the publication."
     Gallo's comments were posted online in 2010.
     Gallo is best known for writing, directing and starring in two provocative independent films, "Buffalo '66" in 1998 and "The Brown Bunny" five years later.
     Takano interviewed him in 2003 for a Japanese men's motorcycle publication. Gallo claimed that Takano surreptitiously recorded a conversation between them before the formal interview.
     The magazine article drawn from the interview appeared in February 2004. Then in April 2010, Takano posted audio files of the interview and the allegedly private conversation on his website, according to the complaint.
     When Gallo found out, he asked to have them taken down, and Takano complied, the lawsuit states. But last year Gallo discovered they had reappeared and sued.
     Takano responded in June with the special motion to strike, citing the First Amendment.
     On that issue, Fahey found that Gallo "is and has been a public figure for many years, defendant is a journalist and his interviews of plaintiff dealt with matters of public interest."
     The second question in an anti-SLAPP motion is whether the plaintiff has a good chance of winning his lawsuit. Citing the statue of limitations, Fahey wrote, "plaintiff cannot establish the probability of prevailing on the merits of his claim."
     Gallo's attorney Joseph Costa, with Costa Besser & Childress in Pacific Palisades, argued that Takano should have been prevented from raising the statute of limitations because he reneged on his promise to take down the recordings.
     Fahey said that didn't matter. He said Gallo's lawsuit "specifically alleges that he learned about defendant's publication 'shortly after' February 2004. ... Yet plaintiff did nothing."
     Also, Takano kept the recordings on his website "almost continuously from April 2010 to the present day," the judge said.
     In an interview Tuesday, Costa said he may appeal.
     "I think the court completely ignored the primary argument in the case, which is that the statute of limitations was not applicable because the material had previously been taken down in response to a demand letter from Vincent," he said. "The court gave no consideration to that argument."
     Lewis said that argument was trumped by the single publication rule.

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