Matthew Lombardo Speaks Out on Valerie Harper Lawsuit
Yesterday, BWW reported that beloved Broadway veteran Valerie Harper was facing a lawsuit from 'Looped' playwright Matthew Lombardo. The scribe claims that during rehearsals for the Broadway production, the actress began to slur her speech and forget her lines. When she went to the doctor, it was discovered that her lung cancer had spread to her brain. Lombardo was forced to replace Harper at the last minute, which he claims cost him $500,000.
In an exclusive interview with today's ET, the Broadway playwright Matthew Lombardo gave an exclusive statement, saying that despite the $2 million lawsuit, he very much "adores" Valerie.
"I have no animosity against Valerie. I adore her. I wish her the best always," he tells ET. "Unfortunately her husband decided to create this lawsuit as he did 20 years ago with her TV show Valerie and it's stirring up a lot of trouble. I am deeply devastated that Valerie would choose to be a part of this and spend her remaining time immersed in this negativity."
Lombardo says that the 74-year-old 'Rhoda' star, and her husband, Tony Cacciotti, "knowingly withheld the truth about her cancer." The writer filed the lawsuit as a result of one filed by Harper, in which she claims he did not pay the remainder of her contract despite her illness.
Lombardo's attorney explains to ET, "In the midst of Ms. Harper's highly successful book tour and her public appearances on talk shows and Dancing With The Stars, her husband, Tony Cacciotti, decided to target Mr. Lombardo even though it was Cacciotti who had financially abandoned the national tour of Looped at the 11th hour, leaving Mr. Lombardo and another investor holding the bag and deeply in debt. It never would have occurred to Mr. Lombardo to sue Valerie Harper and he was resigned at the time to simply accept his financial losses and to celebrate Ms. Harper's renewed health along with her many fans. Sadly, a lawsuit was filed against him and despite his many efforts to resolve it quietly, he was given no choice but to defend himself as would anyone in his position and to reluctantly reveal what had actually transpired behind the scenes."
Today, the playwright also posted a statement on his official Facebook page:
"Everyone who knows me knows that I have nothing but love and admiration for Valerie Harper and I share everyone's delight that her cancer is in remission.
The truth is Val's husband Tony Cacciotti initiated this lawsuit (not me) very much like he did when he got his wife fired 20 years ago from her television series and then subsequently sued NBC. I am deeply saddened Val has allowed him to legally pursue these meritless allegations and pray that she will put an end to this negativity and concentrate on staying healthy for many years to come."
Harper was diagnosed a year ago with terminal brain cancer and was given just three months to live by her doctors. She went on to beat the odds, even appearing as a contestant on ABC's 'Dancing With the Stars.
The actress is best known to audiences for her role as the beloved Rhoda Morgenstern on the classic TV sitcom "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and its subsequent spin-off, "Rhoda." The popularity of the show was enormous, and the episode of Rhoda's wedding set ratings records with 52 million viewers.
For playing Rhoda, Harper won a total of four Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Her extensive television career includes the self titled sitcom, "Valerie," and more recently guest roles on such hit shows as "Desperate Housewives," "Sex and the City," "That '70s Show," "Touched by an Angel" and "Hot in Cleveland." Notable film credits include "Blame It on Rio," "Freebie and the Bean," "Chapter Two" and "The Last Married Couple in America."
In 2010 Harper was seen on Broadway in "Looped" and received a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of legendary actress Tallulah Bankhead. In January 2013, Harper published her memoir, I Rhoda.