Suing the bosses who bounced her, a bitter Valerie Harper
fights to save her reputation. David Hutchings. il pors People
Weekly, vol. 28, no. 16, p.46-48, October 19, 1987 (small photo
on cover).


[photo caption]
Harper and husband Tony Cacclotti (flanked by attorneys
Barry Langberg, far left, and Robert Albrecht) defended
her "good name" last week at Los Angeles Superior Court.
[photo credit]

  When it comes to litigious temper
tantrums, none this season can com-
pare to the backstage slime sling-
ing between Valerie Harper and her
TV bosses at NBC and Lorimar, pro-
ducers of the sitcom Valerie.  You
know how the fight began After two
seasons on the show, Harper wanted
more money and creative control. The
bosses claim the star walked off the
job.  "Ha!" said Harper.  "This star did
not walk off, but was fired." Take that,
said Lorimar, suing Harper for $70 mil-
lion for breach of contract.  Take this,
said Harper, countersuing for $180 mil-
lion in damages.
 Ugly?  As the saying goes, you ain't
heard nothing yet.
 Last week the parties met in court
for round one of an acrimonious battle
that could go on for months.  Lorimar
executives claimed that their decision
to replace Harper with Sandy Duncan
was the result of Harper's "disruptive"
behavior.  Valerie co-executive pro-
ducer Bob Boyett recalled that Harper
was "screaming and crying and verbal-
ly assaulting various of the show's cre-
ative personnel." Added co-executive

producer Tom Miller of her one-epi-
sode return to the set "She lunged to-
wards me, yelling, 'You were glad I
wasn't here.  And you loved it.  You
loved it.' " Said Harper "They are say-
ing that Valerie Harper is crazy and
neurotic and that I was disabled as an
actress.  I will prove the conspiracy
they made to ruin my reputation."
 Even sitting on the sofa of her re-
cently purchased home in Beverly
Hills, Harper, 47, still seems to be reel-
ing. "This is the worst thing that ever
happened to me," she says.  "I feel
robbed and ripped off.  There's the
feeling that Valerie Harper is this
greedy, clutching actress.  That's a
bald-faced lie." Sitting beside her is
Tony Cacciotti, 48, another co-exec-
utive producer on Valerie, and Harp-
er's longtime manager and husband
since April.  "I'm the type that holds
grudges," says Cacclotti, a former fit-
ness trainer.
  Hands gesticulating, Harper de-
scribes the circumstances that led to
the court battle.  "The show was our
baby, our little creation," says Harper,
who helped develop the series with

Cacciotti.  After two seasons of weak
ratings, Valerie was finally moving up.
Given the show's success, Harper in-
sists their demands for a bigger piece
of the profits were not only modest but
overdue.  Harper and Cacciotti will not
discuss specifics.  But Lorimar, in its
court filings, indicated that the terms
of the couple's 1985 contract called for
Harper to receive $56,750 per episode
by her third year, plus 10 percent of the
show's adjusted gross profits.  In May,
says Lorimar, the couple demanded an
increase to $100,000 per episode for
Harper and 35 percent of the adjusted
gross profits.
  When Lorimar refused, Harper did
not show up for work. That ploy had
worked for her in the past In 1975, be-
fore her second season as Rhoda, she
refused to perform until CBS upped
her salary from $10,000 to $17,500 a
week.  She won, but not before Robert
Wood, then CBS-TV president, warned
his colleagues that "we must be pre-
pared to drop a regular from the cast
of a series, or start a new season with
reruns, or even substitute a different
program at the last minute."
  Twelve years later NBC heeded
Wood's advice.  In late July, with Harper
on strike, the producers shot an epi-
sode without her.  She returned to the
set on Aug. 4 only after a compromise
was reached offering Harper $65,000
per episode and 12.5 percent of the
domestic gross receipts. "I was ecstat-
ic," says Harper.  But a week later, af-
ter shooting one episode, she received
a call saying she was being sacked.
Lorimar says they acted on Harper's
continued "fury, hysteria, combative-
ness and paranoia." Miller said she
begged, "I can't do this with my life, cut
me loose." Lies, says Harper, adding,
"It felt great to be back." After the fir-
ing, she went through trying times
"that impacted every area of my life."
She and Tony had just adopted a
daughter, Cristina, 4, and, Valerie says,
"I had to lie to her and pretend I had a
cold and that's why I was crying.  Even
people who think I'm a pushy broad
wouldn't wish this on me."
  Not quite.  Says NBC Entertainment


[photo caption]
"I have these over-
whelming feelings of
grief and loss and
shock," says Harper
(at home in L.A.).

chief Brandon Tartikoff "Valerie
brought this on herself.  She was a
holdout at a tremendous cost to us.
When this blew up into a war, we de-
cided to go with plan B." Tartikoff
publicly joked about retitling the show
At Home With What's Her Name.
Harper sees such comments as a
"veiled threat to actors trying to
straighten out their contracts." She
warns Tartikoff that such tactics one

day will "bite him in the ass."
  Harper had more wounds to lick.  No
sooner had she lost her job than she
learned that her TV character was be-
ing killed off.  Sandy Duncan would por-
tray Valerie's sister-in-law, newly di-
vorced and ready to move in and play
mother to Val's three sons (Jason Bate-
man, Danny Ponce and Jeremy Licht)
six months after their mother died in a
car crash.  "I think it's a callous, heart-
less, irresponsible decision to kill a
mother on a comedy on national TV,"
says Harper.  "I want to yell, 'Run,
Bambi, run!' These guys must really
hate me." In one part of her suit,
Harper demanded that the show, newly
titled Valerie's Family, stop us-
ing her name now that it has stopped
using her.
  Harper phoned her TV family per-
sonally with her bad news.  "I didn't
want the boys to hear on the streets
that their mom had been canned.  All
three were really shocked," she says.
"Danny Ponce [who plays one of her
twin sons] was hysterical when he
heard I was going to die on the show."
Says Jason Bateman, the 18-year-old
heartthrob "She was like my second
mom.  When she left the show it jarred

[photos caption]
Harper (relaxing with husband Tony and
dogs) "boars no grudge" against replace-
ment Sandy Duncan (left, on the show
with Willard Scott and Jason Bateman).

us." Bateman's support may surprise
some who insist that one of Harper's
main problems on the series was jeal-
ousy over Jason's burgeoning popular-
ity.  "Absurd," says Harper.  "I just
didn't want us to get in a rut where ev-
ery week it was Jason and another girl.
I wanted the little boys used more."
Boyett, recalling one of Harper's last
days of taping, paints a different pic-
ture.  "She came up to me sobbing and
said, 'I can't do this to my career. I
can't stand in the kitchen and give ad-
vice to teenage boys.' "
 More disturbing to Harper was the
completely unfounded rumor that the
problems on the show started as a re-
sult of her allegedly troubled marriage
to Tony.  The agency from which she
and Cacciotti adopted Cristina (the
adoption has not yet been made final)
even paid a visit to check out the situa-
tion.  Some agency people had read a
tabloid report that Harper and Cac-
ciotti were having marital difficulties.
"Can you imagine how frightening it is
during adoption to have a call like
that?" she asks.  "I had to tell them ev-
erything was okay."
  Harper appreciates the support of
such colleagues as Dennis Weaver,
Nancy Walker, Gavin MacLeod and
even Duncan, who sends this message
of advice to Harper "You are so tal-
ented.  But you just can't hang on [to
this show] forever.  Look at this as a di-
vorce on the grounds of irreconcilable
differences.  Believe in your own sur-
vival instincts, Valerie, and just go on.
You can't wallow in something for too
long or negative energy takes over.  Ul-
timately this is not of global interest."
Duncan, who says she's met and likes
Harper, adds that she feels no guilt at
stepping into the star spot.  "This is a
new character I'm playing," she says.
"If it wasn't me it would have been
someone else.  I just hope Valerie's not
  Of course she is.  Harper mentions a
possible Broadway play and a TV talk
show, but she fears that the case may
have made her a "pariah" in the indus-
try.  "I don't have a reputation of be-
ing a super-witch who demands pink
rugs in the dressing room," she says.
"And I've never shown up drunk or had
a substance-abuse problem, except
doughnuts." Her need to vindicate her-
self, however, doesn't mean she wish-
es ill for Valerie's Family.  "In my heart,
I can't say I want the show to sink," she
says.  "You know what?" she adds,
suddenly brightening.  "I'd go back to-
morrow if I could."  DAVID HUTCHINGS

48    Photographs by Tony Costa/Outline Press
Producers Sue Valerie Harper for $20 Million.
Los Angeles Times, Part VI, pg. 11, February
6, 1988.

Producers Sue
Valerie Harper
for $20 Million

   As if the Valerie Harper/Lor-
  imar divorce wasn't messy
  enough, the executive pro-
ducers of "Valerie" have filed a
$20-million libel and slander suit
against their former star.
   Thomas Miller and Robert Boy-
ett, executive producers of both
"Valerie" and its current incarna-
tion, "Valerie's Family," claim in a
suit filed Thursday in Los Angeles
Superior Court that, in nationally
broadcast television shows, Harper
falsely accused them of lying and
   Harper left the NBC series at the
end of last season after contract
negotiations broke down with Lor-
imar Telepictures, the show's pro-
duction company. Lorimar, Miller
and Boyett have all said that
Harper willingly walked off the
series, and Lorimar has a suit
pending against her for breach of
   Harper has her own suit against
Lorimar alleging that she was
wrongly fired from the show. A
trial on Harper's case has been
tentatively scheduled for April 20.
   Miller and Boyett's new suit
alleges that in an interview on the
"Regis Philbin Morning Show" on
WABC-TV in New York last Octo-
ber, Harper said the producers
"robbed me of my show. And to
compound it, they lied publicly and
constantly to the papers and to the
news, saying I left, that I couldn't
work out the money."
   The suit also charges that on the
nationally broadcast CNN program
"Larry King Live," which aired
last December, Harper said she
"really felt stabbed in the back" by
her "two partners. My friends,
alleged friends, wrote declarations
and literally perjured themselves
about my behavior."
  The libel suit states that Harper's
remarks were false and that she
"maliciously" made those state-
ments to "defame and discredit"
Miller and Boyett.
The Power of Stardom. Diane Haithman.
il. Los Angeles Times, Part VI, pg. 1,
27, 31, September 2, 1988.

[photo caption]
Valerie Harper is featured in a courtroom drama, where
a power play is unfolding Just who has creative control
of a TV series?

       The Power of Stardom
        Times Staff Writer

  The former star of the TV sitcom "Valerie" has
  been starring in a courtroom drama for the
  past 2 1/2 weeks. Suggested titles for this new
fall series "Valerie's Lawyers" or "The Lorimar
Family" -- or, perhaps more appropriate to the story
line of this particular power struggle, "Who's the
  That has emerged as a central question as Valerie
Harper and Lorimar television continue their
year-old feud over who wanted creative control of
the NBC comedy and whether the Emmy
Award-winning actress quit or was fired.
  While the much-publicized trial in Los Angeles
Superior Court is a simple breach-of-contract suit,
some attorneys involved in the case say that the
outcome may have broader significance in defining
just how much clout a star wields in today's
television world.
  The dispute revolves around "Valerie" -- a.k.a.
"Valerie's Family" and now called "The Hogan
Family" -- an NBC comedy from which Harper, the
star of the show, parted in August, 1987. Harper,
who played mother-of-three Valerie Hogan, was
written out of the show (killed in an accident) and
replaced by Sandy Duncan as Valerie's
  Lorimar Television, the show's producer, claims
that Harper quit. Harper claims that she--along
with her husband, Tony Cacciotti, who served as
supervising producer on the show--were
wrongfully fired.
  Lorimar and NBC filed a $70-million suit against
Harper, and she sued them back for $180 million,
both actions charging breach of contract. A jury
trial began Aug.17 and is expected to continue for
the next several weeks.
  Although the question of who breached the
contract first is the only issue being debated by the
attorneys and the witnesses in the courtroom,
another important fact may have wider implications
for Hollywood A show called "Valerie"
                   Please see HARPER, Page 27

HARPER Who Has Creative Control of Series?
Continued from page 1

went on the air without Valerie--
and the Nielson ratings weren't
  Some attorneys involved in the
Harper case believe that the fact
that her series continued without
her may keep other performers
from taking their grievances to
  That fact also raises questions
about whether any TV star is
worth the large salaries they are
traditionally paid. Harper's con-
tract called for her to receive
$65,000 per episode in the series'
third season, escalating to $90,000
per show in year five. In June, 1987,
she requested that those figures be
boosted to $100,000 in year three
and $140,000 in year five.
  In addition, Harper's husband,
Tony Cacciotti, her former weight-
loss and health coach, also received
substantial compensation and a
supervising producer credit on the
show, although various witnesses
for Lorimar have claimed that he
did not have enough television
experience to warrant the title.

  Lorimar's attorney, Don Engel,
  interviewed during a break in
last week's court sessions, suggest-
ed that the fact that a television
series was able to go on without its
star has already made other stars
recognize that they may command
less power than they previously
  "I think the fact that she has hurt
her career so badly has already
made a lot of performers sit up and
take notice," Engel said. "I think
there's going to be a lot less
tendency for performers to take
their complaints to court."
  When asked to respond to that,
Harper's attorney, Barry Lang-
berg, said heatedly that "Valerie"
was able to go on without Valerie
due to Harper's own creative skill.
  "The fact that the show was able
to go on without Valerie is a tribute
to Valerie to a large extent, because
she basically developed the show,"
Langberg said. "She was the one
who said she wanted the show to be
an ensemble, and she did as much
of that as she could."
  Although Engel and NBC attor-
ney Donald Zachary laughingly
said they do not expect that a ruling
in Lorimar's favor would lead to a
"Cosby Show" without Bill Cosby
or other drastic changes in what
goes on the TV screen, Engel noted
that television series may be less
reliant on their stars than in the
days of "I Love Lucy."
  Engel noted, for example, that
NBC's "A Different World" is pro-
ceeding this season without star
Lisa Bonet, who will leave the
"Cosby Show" spinoff about col-
lege life because of her pregnancy.
(She will go back to her role as
Cosby's daughter on "The Cosby
Show," returning home as a college
dropout; her pregnancy will not be
written into the script.)

  Whether "The Hogan Family"
  would have maintained its
ratings position if Harper had not
been replaced by a known star such
as Duncan isn't known. Still, this
instance suggests that in some
cases major TV stars may at least
be interchangeable.
  Titles may be interchangeable
too. At the beginning of last season,
Harper sued Lorimar and NBC to
halt the use of her name in "Vale-
rie's Family," the title chosen fol-
lowing her departure. NBC won the
right to continue using the title
"Valerie's Family" for the rest of
the 1987-88 season in trade for a
promise that Harper would get an
early trial in the breach-of-con-
tract suit. In June, the network
retitled the series "The Hogan
  The fact that ratings stayed
approximately the same for both
seasons suggests that the audience
was not as worried about the title
as Harper.
  The title dispute served one
practical function, however As a
result of that agreement, Harper
vs. Lorimar and NBC is in court
"We're conducting this
 trial in a fishbowl."
after only a year-long delay, rather
than the 3 to 5 years it might have
taken through normal channels. To
further expedite the trial, retired
Superior Court Judge William Ho-
goboom was hired to preside over
the case as part of Los Angeles'
"rent-a-judge" program. The par-
ties involved are paying $15,000 per
week in court, expenses including
Hogoboom's salary.
  While the title controversy has
been put to rest, the attorneys have
continued to hurl accusations in
court--from Lorimar, that Harp-
er's erratic behavior during the
beginning of the television season
last year constituted a breach of
contract and forced them to launch
the season without her, and from
Harper's side, that Lorimar's law-
yers continue to conduct a cam-
paign to smear the actress' name.

  Although Engel insists that his
  side has toned down the lan-
guage that was part of the original
papers filed against Harper last
year (which included this descrip-
tion of Harper by producer Thomas
Boyett "Her behavior during [a]
long meeting could be character-
ized as a changeable combination of
fury, hysteria, combativeness and
paranoia"), the word insane has
arisen several times in trial testi-
  Lorimar Television President
David Salzman said Harper "acted
as if she was insane" at some
meetings, and said he was con-
cerned "for her health and sanity"
during meetings before Harper left
the show. He denied however, that
Lorimar actively campaigned to
create a public image of Harper as
  "The only public perception we
tried to change was that the view-
ers perceived her as 'Rhoda,' " he
said, referring to Harper's previous
TV series.
  Even though he questioned her
star power, Engel believes that
Harper's star status has already
had a profound effect on the case.
  "I happen to think that if she
were not a major personality, the
facts being what they are, she
would not have pursued this case,"
Engel said. "I have to think that
she's counting on the jury being
very heavily swayed by that."

  That remains to be seen, but
  certainly the jury could not
help but feel the heat of the
spotlight in this case. Although
media interest has waned some-
what since the trial began, it has
been tried almost literally before
the cameras, as press photogra-
phers jockeyed for the best shot of
Harper during the first days.
  "We're conducting this trial in a
fishbowl," Engel observed one af-
ternoon during a break.
  Having Harper, an actress, on
the stand also has made it difficult
at times for an observer to separate
truth from performance. As a mat-
ter of course, witnesses have read
various documents aloud to the
jury. "Take it from the top?"
Harper asked during one of her
  Other showbiz personalities have
appeared to amuse and bemuse the
onlookers. Some of the witnesses
have been comedy writers, such as
"Hogan Family" supervising pro-
ducer Chip Keyes--and continually
cracked up the jury. Keyes, ex-
plaining how late the staff some-
times worked on "Valerie," re-
marked, "I walked the dog at the
wrong end of the day."
  "This trial is going to become
famous for one-liners," replied En-
  While other courtrooms in the
utilitarian County Court building
no doubt have been preoccupied
with crime, murder and mayhem,
this jury has been confronted with
  --Extraterrestrial evidence. Ex-
hibit 529 was a letter from "Alf."
Actually, the Alf letter was written
by Lorimar's Salzman to NBC
Entertainment President Brandon
Tartikoff. The letter--in which Alf,
the furry alien character from
another popular NBC comedy,
begged Tartikoff not to cancel
"Valerie" after a season of margin-
al ratings--was Salzman's way of
persuading Tartikoff to save "Va-
lerie" for the upcoming season.
(Tartikoff did renew the show,
although the influence of Alf/Salz-
man remains unclear.)
  --An invitation to La Costa. Not
for the jury, but for "Tony and
Val"--extended by Merv Adelson,
chairman and chief executive offi-
cer of Lorimar, during a short-
lived period of reconciliation be-
tween Harper and the studio in
early August, 1987. (Adelson was
then a part owner of the pricey
health spa.) "La Costa is a place
where the sky is always blue," the
note said. "I've always found that
La Costa is great for stress reduc-
tion and recuperation. . . ."
  --The "change of life" note.
Salzman, a man noted for taking
lots of notes ("I'm not compulsive
about anything--I like to take
notes," he responded to an attor-
ney's suggestion that there was
       Please see HARPER, Page 31

Continued from Page 27

something unusual about this), had
written in the margin during a
particularly emotional meeting
with Harper and others "change of
life." Harper's attorney, Barry
Langberg, charged that Salzman
was trying to portray Harper as "a
really insane star who's going
through a change of life." Salzman
acknowledged that he had written
the note, but did not explain why.
  --More notes. "Hogan Family"
supervising producer Judith Pioli
explained to the jury as part of her
testimony what she meant when
she described "giving notes" to
actors on the set--in other words,
suggestions for a better perform-
ance. Later, Pioli corrected Engel's
pronunciation of Cacciotti. "That's a
note," cracked the judge.

  NBC attorney Donald Zachary
  fears that the showbiz aura,
besides possibly swaying the jury
in favor of Harper, may also lead
the jury to accept that threats,
walkouts, star temperament and
the wholesale rewriting of con-
tracts on a whim are part of the
normal process of doing business in
  "That's why it's significant. If
the jury buys that argument, then
contracts in our industry, the
sports industry, the music industry
don't mean anything, to the extent
that we're in a business that is
always subject to blackmail of this
  Of course, if the jury doesn't
allow itself to be influenced by its
perception of show business, Harp-
er vs. Lorimar is just another trial,
Zachary noted.
  "If it is seen as simple--that this
is a breach-of-contract issue--then
it's no more significant than any
other breach of contract. We've
been in hundreds of them."
Jurors Award Valerie Harper $1.4 Million, Cut of Profits.
Diane Haithman. il. Los Angeles Times, Part II, pp. 1, 10,
September 17, 1988.

Jurors Award
Valerie Harper
$1.4 Million,
Cut of Profits

Times Staff Writer

  A Los Angeles Superior Court jury
determined Friday that actress Valerie
Harper was wrongfully fired by Lorimar
Television from the NBC series "Valerie"
and awarded her $1.4 million in damages
plus a share of profits from the show.
  "We won financially, we won morally,"
said a triumphant Harper after the verdict,
which exonerated her of breaching her
Lorimar contract by erratic behavior and
threats to leave the show. "This is a
landmark decision in terms of the way
actors are dealt with, and the way people
who are wrongfully fired are dealt with."
  Harper added that although the bitter
legal battle was "terribly painful," it was
worth it to warn other performers not to
"enter into gentlemen's agreements with
people who are not gentlemen."
  After a three-week trial and five days of
deliberation, the jury awarded Harper $1.4
million in damages plus 12 1/2% of the
profits from the show, $220,000 in compen-
sation for the dismissal of her husband,
Tony Cacciotti, as supervising producer
and another $200,000 that Harper would
have earned by starring in a made-for-
television movie for Lorimar as part of her
original contract.
  Harper's attorney, Barry Langberg, esti-
mated Lorimar would end up paying
Harper somewhere between $10 million
and $15 million.
  Donald Zachary, an NBC lawyer, esti-
mated that the 12 1/2% of the adjusted gross
profits awarded Harper could amount to
$150,000 to $210,000 per episode. Harper
will receive that percentage for the two
years of episodes she completed as well as
the 22 episodes she would have done in the
1987-88 TV season had Lorimar not re-
placed her with Sandy Duncan.
  Earlier in the trial, Judge William Hogo-
boom had dismissed charges by Harper
that NBC had conspired with Lorimar to
have her fired. Hogoboom also threw out
Lorimar's request for punitive damages
from Harper.
  Harper starred in the "Valerie" series as
housewife Valerie Hogan from September,
1985, to May, 1987. She was dismissed from
the show after taping one episode in the fall
of 1987, when the series was retitled
"Valerie's Family." She recently complet-
            Please see HARPER, Page 10

[photo caption]
Valerie Harper beams as she leaves courtroom
after $1.4-million award.
[photo credit]
Associated Press

Continued from Page 1

ed a TV movie for NBC and is
currently developing another se-
  The jury's vote was unanimous
on all counts except on whether
Lorimar had been guilty of bad
faith, oppression and malice in
terminating Harper's contract;
three jurors believed Lorimar's ac-
tions did not represent bad faith--
not enough to affect the outcome in
the civil case.
  Lorimar attorney Don Engle,
who charged that the jury's deci-
sion was based on bias against big
corporations rather than the law,
said that Lorimar had offered
Harper "about two-thirds" of what
she will receive to settle out of
court--and that he had had author-
ity to go higher than the amount
Harper won in court. "If he [Harp-
er's attorney Barry Langberg]
wants to tell his client he got a big
victory, that's fine," he said.
  Engle said Lorimar may appeal
the decision, but the money in-
volved might not be worth it.
  Langberg, however, said the
amount Lorimar offered Harper to
settle out of court was a "minute
fraction" of the jury's award. "If
Lorimar doesn't mind losing $10 to
$15 million, great," Langberg said,
adding jokingly that "maybe that's
why Lorimar has been losing so
much money" in recent years.
  Langberg said he believed Lori-
mar had fired Harper because the
show's executive producers,
Thomas Miller and Robert Boyett,
were unwilling to share creative
control of the show with Harper
even though consulting rights were
in her contract.
  Harper said Lorimar fired her
"because they could get away with
it--because they have their own
personal agenda that I didn't know
  Harper said some Lorimar exec-
utives displayed "two-facedness in
the extreme" in their testimony
that her behavior made them fear
for her sanity. In response to
questions about whether sexism
was involved in Lorimar's lawsuit,
Harper replied "I think the boy's
club was at work here," citing an
implication in some testimony that
she was displaying erratic behavior
because she was menopausal.
  Harper said in an interview that
she plans to sue producers Miller
and Boyett for libel for saying in
written depositions that she was
"disabled as an actress" by her
  Engle said Miller and Boyett
have already filed suit against
Harper for calling them "perjurers"
on a recent television talk show.
Valerie Harper Savors Her Victory. Diane Haithman. il. Los
Angeles Times, Part VI, pp. 1, 4, September 19, 1988.

[photo caption]
Valerie Harper (with husband Tony Cacciotti) "It's so
nice to see 'wrongfully' fired after all I've seen is

  Valerie Harper Savors Her Victory

         Times Staff Writer

  Twenty-four hours after her court
  victory, actress Valerie Harper
  sat beaming in the living room of
her Beverly Hills home. The doorbell
rang; in came a pastel flower
arrangement, congratulating her on
winning her bitter lawsuit against
Lorimar Television. She put it across
from another congratulatory bouquet.
The sun streamed in. Calls of
congratulations punctuated the
  "I don't know what today would be
like had I lost the case," Harper said.
  Harper's mother, bedridden with
cancer, also happily pored over press
reports of her daughter's exoneration.
Harper's young adopted daughter
frolicked through the house, clutching a
colorful bunch of helium-filled
  Clearly, Valerie Harper and her
husband, Tony Cacciotti, could sit back,
relax and savor the moment for the first
time in more than a year . . . for the
first time since her legal battle had
begun with Lorimar Television over
her role in the NBC television series
  On Friday, a Los Angeles Superior
Court jury ended their 12-month legal
dispute and three-week court battle
with the unanimous decision that
Harper was wrongfully fired from her
role as homemaker Valerie Hogan on
Lorimar's "Valerie" series last fall. The
jury awarded Harper $1.4 million
compensation for lost wages, as well as
$220,000 to Cacciotti, formerly an
executive producer on the show, and
profit participation that could total $15

  "My major plan, desire, wish was that
            Please see HARPER, Page 4

Continued from Page 1

the truth of the situation be ex-
posed and be exposed broadly," she
said happily. "There were so many
half-truths, and out-and-out un-
truths about me, my perfoming,
about my stability as a person, my
psychological state. It's so nice to
see wrongfully fired after all I've
seen is fired, fired, fired."
  The money, she said, was not as
gratifying as the chance to clear
her name.
  Harper hopes that her victory
will lay to rest what she calls
Lorimar's "twisted and exaggerat-
ed" portrait of her as "a hellish
demon" who sought to "submarine
the show."
  "I have a sense that winning the
case has been an extraordinary
panacea in the eyes of the public, in
the eyes of the media and in the
eyes of the industry," she said.
"The things about my being dis-
ruptive and difficult and all of those
things--I've worked with too many
people for that to hold any water.
Nobody has ever said that I was
troubled or had a drug problem or
an alcohol problem or anything like
  The case came to a head in the
summer of 1987 when Harper and
Cacciotti moved out of their offices
on the Lorimar lot after a contract
dispute in which she sought more
money. Harper did not show up to
shoot the first "Valerie" episode of
the season because of the dispute.
After what appeared to be a resolu-
tion of differences between her and
Lorimar, Harper returned to the
set to tape the next episode.
  After that episode, Lorimar dis-
missed Harper and announced that
the first episode of the season
would explain that Valerie Hogan
died in an accident. Sandy Duncan,
as Valerie's sister-in-law, Sandy
Hogan, replaced Harper as care-
taker of the three Hogan boys,
including teen idol Jason Bateman.
The show was retitled "Valerie's
Family." (This season it is being
retitled again--to "The Hogan
  Things got ugly. Lorimar sued
Harper for $70 million for breach of
contract, saying her erratic behav-
ior, unreasonable financial and cre-
ative demands and threats to walk
off the show had forced the compa-
ny to replace her. In turn, Harper
sued Lorimar and NBC for $180
million for breach of contract,
saying she was ready, willing and
able to perform in the series.
  "I was willing to come back at
any point," she said Saturday.
"There still could have been a
sister-in-law. Do you know what
I'm saying? But the desire to hurt
was so great, I think they wanted
their retribution."
  Harper also demanded that NBC
stop using the name "Valerie" in
the title of the show. NBC won the
right to continue to use the title
"Valerie's Family" for the rest of
the 1987-88 TV season by agreeing
to a speedy court date for the
breach-of-contract suits.
  Lorimar charges that Harper's
behavior bordered on insanity
were widely publicized; company
executives said that Harper had
threatened she would walk off the
show if her creative and financial
demands were not met and that
they feared she was nearing a
nervous breakdown that might
render her unable to perform.
  "Things in print have a great
deal of power," Harper said,
thoughtfully. "Only time will tell
[if there has been any permanent
damage to her career]. There are
probably people who still believe
that here is a greedy actress who
quit her show."
  Although Harper said she
doesn't believe that she's been
blackballed in Hollywood for suing
a production company, she ac-
knowledged that the litigation af-
fected both the public's and the TV
industry's perception of her, while
she awaited trial. "It's good copy, a
hysterical woman--partic-
ularly with the sexism that's ram-
pant out there," she said.
  "There was a lot out there, a
[negative] perception in the indus-
try. Radio shows were calling me
the 'Loser of the Week.' They were
saying that I held out for money
and was dropped. That is not what
  Harper, who came to prominence
on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
and her own spinoff series "Rho-
da," recently completed two televisi-
sion movies--one for NBC in
fact--and says she is in the first
stages of development on a new
series with an "Emmy-winning"
producer. She said it remains to be
seen whether the networks will
show resistance to the idea of
picking up a series with her as the
  Harper said she may have lost
job offers because some members of
the TV industry wrongfully be-
lieved that she legally could not
work until her case was settled.
"When people would talk to Tony
[Cacciotti, who acts as her business
manager], they'd say 'Isn't Valerie
under injunction?' People really
thought I was enjoined, that I could
not work, that I was like Farrah
[Fawcett, who was embroiled in a
legal dispute when she left "Char-
lie's Angels"]), she said. "That was
not the case at all."
  Harper said she never consid-
ered not taking her case to court to
avoid negative publicity. "No, and
I'll tell you why. When I saw [the
statements in the papers filed by
Lorimar last fall], I couldn't have
been more hurt. It was like some-
one you really trusted and loved
said things that were so untrue and
so hurtful, things couldn't get any
  "I think there's a dark side to all
this that makes it really strange. I
didn't know there was any hidden
agenda, any repressed anger or any
malice," she continued. "And boy,
there was a lot of it, or they
couldn't have done what they did.
It was worth it to them to scuttle
and endanger the show. They real-
ly have to look at their own
motives and emotional well-being,
and I really mean that. How far do
you go, how unfair do you become
on the basis of personal feeling?
  "They were willing to kill a
mother [the Valerie Hogan charac-
ter] on television! That's heavy."
  (Don Engle, attorney for Lori-
mar as well as "Hogan Family"
executive producers Tom Miller
and Robert Boyette, said Saturday
that he was preparing for an ap-
peal. He added that the fact that
Judge William Hogoboom dismiss-
ed all charges of conspiracy on the
parts of Lorimar, Miller and Boy-
ette and NBC early in the trial
negated Harper's statement that
Miller and Boyette had a "hidden
agenda" to remove Harper from
the show.)
  To a lesser extent, Harper's hus-
band Cacciotti believes that his
own reputation may have suffered
as well, since testimony from Lori-
mar executives suggested that he
lacked the qualifications to execu-
tive-produce the show and was on
board simply because he is Harp-
er's husband.
  Cacciotti, a health-and-fitness
expert who met Harper a few years
ago when he was hired to help her
lose weight for a movie role, readi-
ly acknowledged that his participa-
tion in the show grew out of his
relationship with Harper and that
he is relatively new to producing
series television. But, he added, his
own extensive stage and screen
acting experience, which included
roles on Broadway, on television
and in "13 or 14" feature films
qualified him for duties on the
show, mainly in casting and work-
ing with actors.
  "They used that," Cacciotti said,
referring to Engle's questioning
witnesses about his experience as
a TV producer during the trial. "I'd
look over at the jury, and a couple
of times I broke out in a sweat. I
watched their eyes look at me and
say 'He's Valerie's husband, that's
why he's there.' But Valerie and I
started out as actors at the same
time in New York. In fact, I
probably worked more than her in
the beginning. Then, she worked
more than I did."
  Added Cacciotti, with a grin "Of
course, it was no contest. I was a
terrible actor."
  Had Harper lost the case--she
was prepared to appeal--the ac-
tress said the verdict might have
sent a message to other performers
not to take management to court
for fear of damage to their careers.
Because she won, however, she
believes that the opposite message

  "They didn't get away with it, so
there's a new implication Let's
take care of our contracts better,"
Harper said. "I don't know if
getting a credit as a producer [next
time] is necessary, but I'll tell you
what I am going to do is make sure
the whole contract is nailed down
and clear. Things needs to be very

  "I think maybe that is the impor-
tance of this case, that managers
really start looking at their stars, or
supporting players, or writers, and
how their deals are made. That
may have some impact on the way
Hollywood does business in the

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