Publicist Says Heather Mills Owes $186K
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A publicist claims Heather Mills owes her $168,000 for 3 years work, during which she helped Mills through her divorce from Paul McCartney. Michele Elyzabeth Blanchard, CEO of plaintiff Parapluie, says Mills lied to her repeatedly during the 3 years she worked for Mills, who became famous for her fight against minefields.
In her Superior Court complaint, Blanchard says she worked for Mills from spring 2005 until July 2008, after meeting her at a party for an "Adopt-A-Minefield" benefit on Rodeo Drive. She says Mills agreed to hire her as her U.S. publicist, for "a flat fee of $5,000 a month plus expense and 10 percent of Mills' earning. Although Mills claimed that she did not receive enough money from her husband to pay plaintiff's standard fee, she promised to pay plaintiff as soon as she could afford to do so," the complaint states. "Plaintiff began working for Mills as of that day."
Blanchard says she "began brining deals to Mills right away," including an offer to sell "her own fragrance," through "Neil Katz, president of Gamini, maker of Tommy Bahama. But the deals plaintiff presented to Mills were eventually turned down or sabotaged by Mills."
Blanchard says she set up "a string of appearances for Mills on television shows, arranging for broadcasters to cover expenses incurred by Mills," and other projects including "endorsements, adverts and commercial deals."
Blanchard says she explained to Mills from the outset that "it was important that Mills provide true and correct information about herself so that no false information would be passed on to media outlets because, as Elyzabeth explained, lies can mislead the public and work against clients in the long run. Despite this, Mills constantly lied to plaintiff and the public, creating a false public image of herself and undermining plaintiff's ability to properly represent Mills. From the outset, Michele Elyzabeth was made to believe that Paul McCartney was a cheap tyrant who was often a drunk and abusive husband. Michele Elyzabeth believed her client."
Blanchard claims that Mills told her at the Vegan Glory restaurant in Los Angeles on Nov. 23, 2005 "that she planned to break up with her husband, claiming he behaved in a violent way towards her. She said: 'I cold kill him, last night he tried to choke me. This marriage is over. I am divorcing him as soon as we get back to England.' Both understood the divorce would generate a huge amount of negative publicity about Mills. Plaintiff worked with Mills to plan a strategy for counteracting the anticipated destruction of Mills' public image the divorce would cause around the world. Step one, Mills fired her publicist in England and hired plaintiff as her worldwide publicist, promising to take care of plaintiff's fees and expenses out of the divorce settlement. Michele Elyzabeth believed Mills and was determined to help her client get through the divorce with Mills' image intact."
Things spiraled downhill, according to the complaint. Blanchard says Mills called her in December 2005 "to announce she had left her husband. A few days later she insisted they were back together again." Mills told her in April 2006, at a meeting at McCartney's Beverly Hills home, that the divorce was on again, Blanchard says - though Mills had been telling the Media that they were staying together.
Meanwhile, Blanchard says, "Unbeknownst to Parapluie, Mills also caused plaintiff to leak untrue stories to the press and to mislead the press on several occasions." These alleged misrepresentations involved changing stories about custody of Mills' daughter, and a London court process involving custody. "Across the world the media branded plaintiff a liar due to that story," the complaint states.
"In the following months and at Mills' direction, Michele Elyzabeth appeared on the television show 'Extra' to tell viewers that Paul McCartney had given her little or no money during the marriage and after they had separated," the complaint states. Blanchard calls these "false claims." She says that "Mills gave plaintiff special thanks after each appearance, always promising to take care of plaintiff's fees and expenses from the divorce settlement, while allowing plaintiff to mislead the public with those appearances."
Blanchard says Mills' lies continued. She says Mills told her that all her fees from "Dancing With the Stars" were going to charity, but "subsequent divorce documents reveal that only a portion of her fees went to charity."
While Blanchard was being stiffed for her fees, she says, she was "shocked" to learn that Mills was renting a home in Malibu for $100,000 while shooting "Dancing With the Stars." Blanchard says she confronted Mills and demanded payment, which Mills promised, saying Blanchard should call Mills' sister, Fiona, who manages Mills' finances.
Blanchard says she called Fiona the next day, and was told that Mills could not afford the $5,000 per moth, but offered $3,000 - which Blanchard accepted, "contingent on Mills' promise to pay plaintiff the difference between her usual fees and reduced feet, plus back fees, as soon as the divorce settlement between Mills and Paul McCartney was finalized."
Blanchard says that "Mills continued misrepresenting herself to plaintiff and the public." She says that in December 2007, "plaintiff leaked a story that Paul McCartney suffered a heart problem requiring a medical procedure. Mills wanted to win sympathy from the public, directing plaintiff to tell a New York newspaper that McCartney's problems were caused by excessive drinking and drug use."
In March 2008, according to the complaint, "Mills told Michele Elyzabeth she had made a documentary proving Paul McCartney was an abusive, drunken husband." Blanchard says she flew to England "with executives from a top United States television production company" to see the tape, "with the potential offer of $1 million for the film."
But Blanchard says "Mills only screened home video footage of happy times with Paul McCartney, rather than the promised video that was supposed to show her husband being abusive. The production company later offered Mills $75,000 for an interview on the subject, which she refused."
Blanchard says she read about the McCartneys' divorce decree in March 2008, and "discovered Mills had lied to plaintiff about the money she was receiving from Paul McCartney before their divorce. Paul McCartney was, in fact, giving Mills one million annually for pocket money. After their divorce became final, also in March 2008, Mills failed to pay plaintiff the money she owed plaintiff from her 25 pound [sic] (almost 50 million U.S. dollar) divorce settlement. Plaintiff now believes Mills never intended to pay as promised." (Parentheses in complaint.)
Blanchard claims she brought Mills another deal, an offer to appear on Donald Trump's show "Celebrity Apprentice," which Mills blew by insisting she be "guaranteed to make the final cut." When "Mills' request to be guaranteed the winner was denied," she offered to be a judge instead, Blanchard says, concluding, "As usual, Mills thwarted plaintiff's attempts to close deals due to her unreasonable demands and erratic behavior."
Blanchard says she quit "after a string of tense exchanges between April and July of 2008," and submitted a final invoice of $168,000, which Mills has not paid.
Blanchard demands money owed, and punitive damages for intentional misrepresentation and false promise. She is represented by Steven Haney with Haney, Roderick, Torbett & Arnold.