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Paul Haggis Accuser Wraps Her Testimony In New York Sexual Assault Civil Trial

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Haleigh Breest finished testifying Tuesday in her sexual assault civil trial against filmmaker Paul Haggis, and jurors began watching the video deposition of another Haggis accuser who has said she went to his office in Los Angeles in 2008 to discuss a possible book adaption and wound up fleeing the building when he suddenly tried to kiss her.

Breest spent nearly 10 hours total in the witness box over four days in an old Manhattan courtroom being cross-examined by a lawyer for Haggis, Priya Chaudhry. Today, Breest was again confronted with texts that didn’t characterize what allegedly happened between her and Haggis as rape, and she was asked why she never went to the police and never sought a sexual assault forensic examination, often referred to as a “rape kit.” 

Breest is suing Haggis claiming he raped her in his apartment in Soho in 2013 after a movie screening party put on by Breest’s boss, which Haggis attended and where Breest was working as a freelance events publicist. Haggis has said the sex was consensual. Breest testified today that she feared police would mishandle a rape investigation, and she kept the tights she wore to work that night — the ones she said Mr. Haggis ripped from her legs — in a designer cloth bag in the back of a dresser until she filed the lawsuit. 

“You understand that you could go to the police right now if you wanted to?” Chaudhry said, noting that New York recently removed the statute of limitations for rape.

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“Are you worried that the police won’t believe you because of the text messages?” Chaudhry asked.

“No,” Breest said.

“But instead you’re going to ask this jury to give you Mr. Haggis’s money?”

“Yes,” she replied. 

On Monday, Chaudhry showed jurors texts by Breest to a friend the day after she was at Haggis’ apartment referencing The First Wives Club, the 1996 movie comedy about a group of jilted spouses getting revenge on their ex-husbands in part by bankrupting them. “I just want to get even and not be the victim,” she wrote, adding, “As they said in first wives club Don’t get mad get everything.”

On Tuesday, Chaudhry raised another piece of ’90s pop culture referenced in the texts: the song “Stupid Girl” by the rock band Garbage, whose “stupid girl” refrain Breest said she had in her head after her experience with Haggis. Chaudhry read aloud some of the lyrics including, “All you had you wasted,” “I can’t believe you fake it,” and “You pretend you’re high/Pretend you’re bored/Pretend you’re anything/Just to be adored.”

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“That’s the song you wanted to play over and over after leaving Mr. Haggis’ apartment?” she asked. Breest emphasized that she just meant the refrain.

In a last brief round of friendly questioning, a Breest lawyer, Zoe Salzman, pulled the long black Sandro dress Breest wore that night out of a plastic zippered bag and held it up on a hangar in view of jurors. “Did the dress rip when Mr. Haggis pulled it off of you?” Salzman asked. “No,” Breest replied.

Breest said that filing a civil case gave her “a sense of control in the process” — which she didn’t believe she would have with a police-led criminal investigation — to counteract “the loss of control of my own body” she said she experienced in being raped. 

“Why are you here, Ms. Breest?” Ms. Salzman said. 

“Because Mr. Haggis should be held accountable for the harm he caused me,” she said.

Over objections from Haggis’ lawyers, Breest’s lawyers called a friend, Lola Miller, who testified that at a dinner in September 2013, Breest told her she had been raped by Haggis. Haggis’ lawyers said the time lag — eight months — was too great to qualify Miller as a so-called “outcry witness” who provides a contemporaneous account of the accuser’s claim. The judge, Sabrina Kraus, said they should have objected to Miller testifying before the trial. 

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Miller said Breest told her Haggis had “overpowered her,” and she recalled Breest telling her that “her tights were ripped.” A defense lawyer, Seth Zuckerman, returned to that point on cross-examination, since it appeared to contradict Breest’s own testimony that the tights were pulled off violently but didn’t rip. 

In a follow-up email that month, Breest wrote, “What happened wasnt ok but it happened. It was somewhat traumatic at the time but I’m well past that thankfully!” Miller wrote back that she was “Always here for you,” she testified, “Because I didn’t believe she was okay.”

Before lunch, jurors began hearing the video testimony of the second Jane Doe called by Breest’s lawyers with an account of an attempt by Haggis to initiate sex. Jane Doe #2, who gave her deposition in 2019, said she met Haggis in 2007 at the Toronto Film Festival which she was covering for Canadian television news. After interviewing Haggis, she hoped to interest him in adapting a favorite Canadian novel of hers for film or television. They met again in April 2008 in Los Angeles to discuss the project — the first time at a cafe in Santa Monica where Jane Doe #2 also met Haggis’ wife and his producing partner.

The next meeting to discuss adapting the book took place the following night at his office in Los Angeles. The woman testified that when she first arrived for the 9 p.m. meeting, the office was still bustling, but later, after she was led to a seating area where she saw there was wine, the lights dimmed and the building emptied out, and once the meeting started, “Very quickly I could tell Mr. Haggis wanted to have a more personal conversation.”

“He wanted to talk about his relationship with his wife,” she said.

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Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs

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Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’

Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.

Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’

EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.

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London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul

To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide 



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‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards

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Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.

Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.

The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)

Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.

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 In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.

Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.

Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.

Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.

The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.

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Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark

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EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.

Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.

Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:

While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.

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Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.

Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide.  As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.

On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”

Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.



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