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REBECCA Producers and Publicist Caught in Lawsuit Back-and-Forth


2013's Broadway drama continues to unfold surrounding the musical REBECCA.

According to The New York Times, the publicist who formerly represented REBECCA, Marc Thibodeau, has asked the State Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit put forth by the show's producers that accuses Thibodeau of "defamation and breach of contract and fiduciary duty" for allegedly "scaring off" a last-minute investor. Thibodeau is arguing that he only warned the potential investor that REBECCA's producers had been taken in by a fraud scheme.

REBECCA's producers then responded with accusations that Thibodeau had used "grimly worded e-mails sent through phony Gmail accounts" to ward off the potential investor. Jusitice Jeffrey K. Oing is currently reviewing the latest details from both sides of the lawsuit.

Click HERE to read The Times' full report.

The whole back-and-forth began after Thibodeau's lawyers moved to dismiss the producers' lawsuit in late February. This was based on the idea that, "a mere business relationship between parties dealing at arm's length does not give rise to fiduciary duties," as stated by Thibodeau's defense team.

In addition, stockbroker Mark C. Hotton was arrested in October 2012 for his attempt to defraud REBECCA's producers. This is the fraud scheme Thibodeau referenced in his alleged warning to the potential investor. The investor, Larry Runsdorf, would have provided $2.25 million for REBECCA.

On the other side, REBECCA's producers have gathered the publicist's contract and three e-mails Thibodeau allegedly sent to Runsdorf using aliases, all facts they plan to use to argue Thibodeau "had an interest in scuttling REBECCA on Broadway."

As BroadwayWorld previously reported, REBECCA's lead producer, Ben Sprecher, is still hopeful that the show might make it to Broadway in the coming 2013 season. Sprecher is currently in the process of raising $4.5 million to bring the show to Broadway. A new contract was recently negotiated that gives Sprecher and fellow producer Louise Forlenza until December 2013 to open on Broadway- otherwise the investors will have to be refunded.

Following REBECCA's cancellation on Broadway and the news that financier and stock broker Mark C. Hotton was arrested and called 'a considerable threat' to the community, he is now awaiting trial. Hotton was arrested for defrauding the show's producers of $60,000 and for an unrelated $750,000 real estate scheme which prosecutors said featured some of the same deceptions used in the REBECCA fraud.

In October, producers filed a $100 million fraud lawsuit in state Supreme Court against Mark C. Hotton, a former stockbroker from Long Island on whom they were relying to raise $4.5 million of the show's $12-million budget. For his criminal trial, Hotton faces 20 years for each of two counts of wire fraud, if convicted.

Earlier in October, Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, producers for Rebecca, the Musical, announced that they were left with no option but to postpone the show. They released a statement at that time, noting that "After Paul Abrams, a major investor, passed away in London, on August 5th, 2012, and who, with three other colleagues, represented the last portion of $4.5 million of the full capitalization for the production... On September 28th, Sprecher and Forlenza were informed that an extremely malicious e-mail, filled with lies and innuendo, had been sent directly to a new investor that morning from an anonymous third party. The e-mail was designed to scare this investor away and it succeeded. The investor withdrew."

REBECCA, the new musical based on the classic novel by Daphne Du Maurier novel, previously delayed the start of its rehearsals by two weeks due reportedly to the death of a key investor responsible for a $4.5 million investment pool in the production. REBECCA was scheduled to begin rehearsals Monday, September 10 prior to an October 30 first preview and November 18 premiere at the Broadhurst Theatre.

REBECCA had its world premiere in 2006 at Vereinigte Buhnen Wien in Vienna, where it played to sold-out houses for more than three years. Vastly successful productions of REBECCA have also played Budapest, Hungary; Bucharest, Romania; Helsinki, Finland; Stuttgart, Germany; St. Gallen, Switzerland and at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo.

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