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Paul Haggis Accuser‘s Graphic Texts From Day After Alleged Rape Shown To Jury: “I Kept Saying No” – Update

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UPDATED with afternoon session: In texts from Haleigh Breest to a friend the day after she says she was raped by filmmaker Paul Haggis in 2013, Breest called the sex “rough and aggressive,” wrote “never ever again” and “He tore me.” She described “Trying to forget last night,” which she had spent at Haggis’ apartment in Soho after a movie-screening party. 

“And I keep saying no,” Breest wrote to the friend in the string of texts, which were shown to jurors Monday on the fourth day of Haggis’ sexual assault civil trial in Manhattan. “But I guess that’s just an invitation or a challenge.”

Breest also wrote, “But he’s like the most charming person to have a conversation with and so smart!!!” She texted, “I don’t think he’s a terrible person and if you got to know him you’d like him but what he did was so wrong!”

Breest was a 26-year-old movie events publicist at a company in New York City owned by a friend of Haggis. She went to his apartment after the party, where she had been working, and said that once there, Haggis forced her to have unprotected oral and vaginal sex, and pushed his fingers inside of her. She testified that she passed out on a guest bed and left the apartment in the morning to go home and then back to work.

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Breest testified that she called the friend twice that day and that she can’t remember her words, but in both conversations described what happened as a violent, unwanted assault. The first person to use the word “rape” in the texts shown to jurors was her friend. “I would call this borderline rape” the friend wrote. 

“It sort of is Live and learn!” Breest texted.

A lawyer for Haggis, Priya Chaudhry, questioned Breest for three hours about the alleged rape, and about the tone and content of texts and emails between her and a handful of people including Haggis himself — who she saw 11 days later at another movie event she was working. Breest emailed Haggis afterward, writing, “It was so crowded last night! Did you have fun?” and inquiring, “What time zone are you on? :)”

“You end that email with a smiley face, correct?” Chaudhry asked.

“Correct,” Breest said.

Chaudhry also asked, “And you sought out an interaction with someone who you claim sexually assaulted you?” 

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Breest often tried to elaborate beyond a yes or a no but found some of her longer explanatory replies stricken by the judge, Sabrina Kraus. 

On Friday, Breest grew agitated about five hours into a cross-examination by Chaudhry that Breest lawyer Zoe Salzman characterized afterward in a statement as the defense going “so far as to demand Ms. Breest stand up and reenact the rape.” Deadline has requested a response from Haggis’ lawyers.

Breest on Friday was standing next to the witness box and trying to show how Chaudhry how she squirmed to avoid Haggis. On Monday, the judge announced an end to any testimony that cannot be verbalized for the written record of the trial.

“Even the most inept words are better than a motion that couldn’t be observed for the record,” she said.

PREVIOUSLY, 11:40 AM: A Canadian woman testifying in the sexual assault civil trial of filmmaker Paul Haggis said Monday that when she rejected Haggis’ sexual advances at a television industry festival in Canada in 2006, he pinned her against a wall in his hotel room, and later groped and shoved her as she prepared to leave the hotel in a taxi.

The woman, who Deadline is not identifying by name, is one of four that lawyers for plaintiff Haleigh Breest plan to call to the stand with similar allegations of rape or attempted sexual assault. Breest, who has accused Haggis of raping her in 2013 when she was an events publicist, returned to the stand on Monday afternoon to resume a lengthy cross-examination that left her in tears Friday and brought the day’s testimony to an early close. The judge, Sabrina Kraus, allowed the other accuser to go first, out of turn, citing scheduling issues.

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In more than two hours on the stand, Jane Doe said she attended the Banff World Television Festival in June 2006 on a prize fellowship in order to make industry contacts and pitch documentary projects; she has since left the field. Haggis, who came up through television, was the keynote speaker and main honoree at a festival in Banff, Alberta, for his Oscar-winning work on Crash and Million Dollar Baby.

“He had won two Oscars recently and that was big deal for a Canadian filmmaker,” the woman testified today.

She said she first saw Haggis speak at a Q&A, and then sought him out at a pub where attendees got to visit one-on-one with the festival’s guest of honor. She said the two exchanged jokes, pleasantries and talked shop, and then Haggis invited her to an exclusive after-party at the festival’s hotel headquarters. “It sounded like a great opportunity,” she said.

As soon as they climbed into a cab together, she realized how it might have looked to other attendees at the pub, she told a Breest lawyer, Zoe Salzman. 

”I said I hope nobody got the wrong impression,” she testified. “He said, ‘People usually do.’ ” 

On the cab ride back to the hotel, Haggis appeared to be talking and texting on his mobile phone to confirm the location of the after-party, she testified. Back at the hotel they walked down a long hallway to a room “and he took out his key to open it,” she said. “I was immediately apprehensive,” she said. She said she took a step backwards at the doorway and Haggis told her, “Don’t worry,” because the after-party was going to be in his room and more people were en route.

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Inside, he poured them wine and held out the glass for her to step forward and claim it, and when she did, he kissed her, the woman testified. “I was totally caught off guard,” she said. She apologized. “I said I’m so sorry if I gave you mixed signals. I’m here for professional reasons,” she testified. 

Haggis apologized and suggested they just sit on the couch instead and talk about her career, she said. But after 20 minutes or so he tried to kiss her again and when she got up and backed away, she said, she eventually backed into a wall with him advancing on her. He grabbed her arms and tried to kiss her once more, she testified. When she turned away to avoid the kiss, she said, “Mr. Haggis used his left hand to grab my face.”

“Cut it out. You’re making me feel like an asshole,” she said he told her. With one arm unpinned, she wriggled free and left the hotel room, and Haggis trailed her out, offering to pay for her cab back to the YMCA where she and the other fellowship winners were being put up for the festival. She said she agreed to the fare, and when the cab arrived, he grabbed her breasts from behind and kissed her neck, and then shoved her forcefully toward the cab — hard enough that she stumbled. He said he handed the driver money.

“I felt humiliated. I felt gross. I felt stupid. I just wanted to get out of there,” the woman testified. Asked by Salzman why she felt stupid, she replied, “Because I stupidly believed people were coming” to the after-party at his hotel room even though “a lot of time had elapsed.”

On cross examination by a Haggis lawyer, Priya Chaudhry, the witness said she never pitched Haggis on any of her project ideas in any of the time she spoke with him.

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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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