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Patty Duke Sues Producer of "Golda's Balcony"

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Patty Duke Can Pursue 'Golda's Balcony' Claims
By JONATHAN PERLOW
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(CN) - A federal judge in Manhattan refused to dismiss former child star Patty Duke's claim that the producer of the play "Golda's Balcony" breached an oral agreement by firing her.
Duke, whose real name is Anna Pearce, starred in her own sitcom, "The Patty Duke Show," and won an Academy Award in 1962 at age 16 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker."
She was set to star in a national tour of the one-actor show about Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. The play previously ran on Broadway and starred Tovah Feldshuh in the title role. In 2003 it became the longest-running one-woman play in Broadway history.
Duke claimed that her agent, the general manager of the show and the producer reached an agreement over a conference call. The actress said her salary terms were met, and her agent allegedly ended the call by saying, "Gentleman, we have a deal. We have an agreement."
But in his deposition, the manager denied that statement was ever made.
Duke said she began learning her lines and conducting research for the role, and she and producer David Fishelson began discussing scheduling, costume fittings and photo shoots.
Fishelson allegedly sent her a draft press release for the tour that read, "Patty Duke to star in Golda's Balcony."
The details of a merchandizing provision were purportedly hindering the deal from becoming official.
Duke said the decision not to offer her a written contract stemmed from a 2005 incident in which she was fired from an appearance on "Law & Order: SVU" for not being able to deliver her lines.
Fishelson allegedly called her and expressed concerns about her ability to perform on the tour. But later that night he sent her an email stating, "I hope I didn't put too much pressure on you ... you're my Golda, I'm certain you'll be ready to play her," according to the complaint.
The next month her agent was contacted by a lawyer for the show, who stated that Fishelson would not be offering her the role. Duke and her agent said that an agreement had been reached for her to star in the play, and that she "abandoned efforts to be cast in a television series" so she could prepare to play Meir.
An expert witness for Duke testified that it is "general practice" in the theater industry to reach an oral deal before a standard equity contract is signed, as required by the actor's union. The expert explained that this allows an actor to start preparing for a role while the parties keep "ironing out" the details.
The defendants' expert witness disputed this notion, and said it's particularly important to have a written contract when producing a one-actor play. The defendants' witness said the success of that kind of show depends on the star, so "a producer would want to be confident that the actor was committed to participating."
They disagreed on whether a written contract was necessary to bind the agreement.
U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood dismissed Duke's invasion of privacy claim over her likeness being used in promotional materials, but declined to drop the breach of contract and promissory estoppel claims.
"Whether parties intended to be bound only by written contract is a question of fact that is usually best determined by a jury at trial; it is rarely appropriate for a court to resolve the issue on summary judgment," Judge Wood wrote.
In the 1960s, Duke had her own sitcom, "The Patty Duke Show" and starred in the campy classic "Valley of the Dolls." She has won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Golden Globe award.


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Yero my Hero
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An expert witness for Duke testified that it is "general practice" in the theater industry to reach an oral deal before a standard equity contract is signed, as required by the actor's union. The expert explained that this allows an actor to start preparing for a role while the parties keep "ironing out" the details.

He's right, sort of. Granted, I've never dealt with a one-actor play, but for every single show and contract I've seen, a preliminary deal was reached first and then the producer, agent, and union spent weeks, sometimes months, settling on the details and writing up the final contract. There are many times the final contract is not signed until well after rehearsals begin. Although these were not one-actor plays, many of them featured a star whom the show was basically built around.

However, this preliminary agreement is almost always in writing. A strictly oral agreement is kind of sketchy, to say the least.
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cliffarico
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Will she have to miss any of her performances in San Francisco's Wicked?
Dollypop
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Patty Duke had trouble learning her lines when she replaced Andrea Martin in the Broadway OKLAHOMA! a few years back. She couldn't handle the rather simple choreography for her character, either.
"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
Mattbrain
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^When you've got an actor in an important role in the show and he or she is having extreme difficulty remembering lines, that is not something to take lightly. Trust me, I know from experience. Oh the stories I could tell about doing The Music Man this summer.
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Rathnait62
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Aww, Dolly, did she refuse to let you spread her personal info all over the internet after you interviewed her or something? Why so bitter?

She was wonderful in OKLAHOMA!
Have I ever shown you my Shattered Dreams box? It's in my Disappointment Closet. - Marge Simpson
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pattydukefan
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I have seen her in several plays/musicals and only saw her forget her lines once. Back in 2002 she was doing a limited run of FOLLIES in Los Angeles. She was having trouble remembering some of the tongue-twisting lyrics to The Story of Lucy & Jesse, probably one of Sondheim's most difficult songs to sing. When she hugged my friends and myself afterward she then asked us "So, did you guys see me f*** up in there?" She told us she was pretty upset that this song was the last from the show to go into rehearsal only two days before opening night. Especially considering they knew of her lack of musical experience. She did not forget a spoken line, however.

I saw her a few times in OKLAHOMA! and never did she forget a line in that. I have also seen her a few times in WICKED and although I saw her stutter once, she did not forget anything. She must be doing something right there since the producers of the show recently extended her contract from six to eleven months.

I also saw her in a small play, HUMBLE BOY, and she did not forget anything. She told me it was more of a challenging remembering her British accent for that than remmebering lines.

I did not see her in GYPSY but I have friends who did and said everything went smoothly on stage.

LOVE LETTERS and BLUE YONDER were plays that needed no memorization.

It's kind of funny that she had never been fired from a television project before. Look at her IMDB page, this woman has been on more TV than almost anyone. There are re-takes on television. It's also funny that right after the firing from GOLDA she did a Hallmark television movie and got through that. And again, has been doing WICKED since March and will be through February.

cliffarico
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BUT will she have to miss any of her performances in San Francisco's Wicked?

Also I read that Patty is supposed to be in Washington DC to help unveil a Helen Keller statue? So unless she is doing a
Patty / Kathy routine how can that be LOL?
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pattydukefan
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Most likely, although she will not need to be present for every day of the trial.

Cliff, did you get my private message I sent to you about a week ago?
cliffarico
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Yes and I sent you a private one back.
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CurtainPullDowner
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Well, "A hot dog makes her loose control".