LOS ANGELES (CN) – A movie producer claims in Superior Court that Mariel Hemingway owes him $185,000 for resurrecting her career, recovering money from the Hemingway estate and getting her endorsement deals.
Michael Wittlin, who filed the complaint pro se, claims Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter owes him the money in management fees for money recovered from the Hemingway estate and endorsements for home design company Cambria.
He also sued Hemingway’s boyfriend, Robert Williams, and the company he says the three of them started, The Willingway LLC.
Wittlin is listed as a producer on five movies on the movie industry website imdb.com, including “The Bridge to Nowhere,” (2009).
Wittlin claims that in May 2011 Hemingway and Williams contracted with him to provide career development services and advise them on business opportunities. He says Hemingway retained his services to “‘re-brand’ and/or otherwise re-invigorate defendant Hemingway’s career and public notoriety.”
Wittlin claims defendant Williams had been a “second-rate ‘stunt man’ in the film/television industry,” and lives with Hemingway.
According to the complaint: “Defendants Hemingway and Williams live a lifestyle which is unique and includes a philosophy of living healthier, eating in certain unique ways and consuming foods which promote this philosophy, in addition to physical exercise and otherwise living their lives in a certain way in conformity with and which promotes said philosophy in an overall manner.”
Wittlin claims they hired him “for the purposes of helping the defendant ‘brand’ this philosophy and way of life by promoting the same to potential strategic partners, and promotes the defendant’s lifestyle for products, media, foods, etc.”
Wittlin says they hired him as their manager, career consultant and promoter.
He claims they formed The Willingway LLC, which he directed during incorporation, setup, branding and development, for which he was to get 10 percent of the LLC.
He claims he also lined up a free vacation for the couple at Hemingway’s request, helped negotiate the purchase of their home, managed their accounting, and arranged for legal services to assist them in the matter of Ernest Hemingway’s estate.
Wittlin says they have paid him only $1,250 for his services: 10 percent of the first half of a payment to Hemingway for an endorsement deal with Spafinder.com.
According to the complaint: “In mid to late 2011, defendants received the sum of $100,000, which was to be deposited into the bank account of the company. That said sum was in fact deposited into the bank account of the company but was summarily removed unilaterally by the defendants Hemingway and Williams. Plaintiff is also informed and believes that defendants conducted other fraudulent activities with the accounts of the company, such as submitting fake reimbursements to the company and using the petty cash of the company to compensate Hemingway’s assistant.”
Wittlin claims the deal was that he was to get 10 percent of the couple’s income, and 10 percent of any money deposited into The Willingway account, plus reimbursement for expenses, and a monthly statement of account.
He claims he has received none of these things, and when he demanded payment, Hemingway and Williams drained The Willingway bank account and fired him.
“Furthermore, in a blatant and outrageous attempt to not pay plaintiff the sums due to him for services provided, defendant Hemingway falsely accused plaintiff of ‘sexual harassment.’ Defendant Hemingway’s allegations were so ridiculous, devoid of any fact or reality that when Hemingway filed a Request for Orders to Stop Harassment in Los Angeles Superior Court … said petition was summarily denied,” Wittlin says in the complaint.
Wittlin claims the defendants owe him at least $185,000 for Hemingway’s endorsement deals. He also says he had to turn down an offer to produce the film “Hack 2,” for which he would have been paid $150,000, in order to work for Hemingway.
He seeks an accounting and damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment.