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October 20, 2014

Gwyneth and Mario sued over food/travel book

by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 5th 2008 3:23PM
mario/gwynethBook? What book? That would seem to be the bone of contention, if you will. Ben Karlin, former headwriter for The Daily Show, has filed a lawsuit against TV chef Mario Batali and actress Gwyneth Paltrow claiming they did not pay him for work he did for a book on which they were collaborating. Karlin, who shared authorship of America (The Book) with Jon Stewart, says he was assigned to "conceptualize and oversee" a book to compliment a PBS series starring Mario and Gwyneth in which the stars take a cultural and gastronomic tour of Spain. The series, which may be called Spain...on the Road Again, will premiere this fall.

According to Karlin's mouthpiece -- er, lawyer -- the production company, Frappe Inc. is also joined in the suit. In 2007, Frappe's prez, Charles Pinsky, made the deal with him. Based on the deal, Karlin traveled to Spain twice on his own dime. When he pressed Pinsky for a signed contract and, presumably, his advance, neither were forthcoming. Karlin was then dismissed without pay. (Of course, if the deal had never been agreed upon, how could Ben have been dismissed?)

Now, Pinsky's mouthpiece -- er, lawyer -- is talking. Leslie Ben-Zvi said Karlin was misrepresenting the facts. "We will vigorously defend this lawsuit, including the good name of Pinsky and Batali." Perhaps Ben-Zvi doesn't know about Paltrow's good name, even with number one box office hit Iron Man still in theaters and that Best Actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love.

Apparently, there were problems between Ben and Mario. Karlin clashed with Batali over who was directing the project. Batali thought Karlin was only a writer. Meanwhile, according to Karlin's suit, "Batali, claiming preoccupation with other ventures, also refused to contribute substantial material to the book, despite Pinsky's assurances otherwise, and there was no indication that any contribution from Paltrow was forthcoming." The lawsuit was filed in New York state court for around $500,000 in damages and compensation. Nothing says yummy Spanish cuisine like a lawsuit, right?

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