Originally created 01/23/04

Liza Minnelli objects to giving a videotaped deposition



NEW YORK -- Liza Minnelli, whose estranged husband, David Gest, is suing her for assault, is objecting to having her pretrial interview videotaped by his lawyer.

"She doesn't want me to videotape her" at the pretrial deposition, Raoul Felder, Gest's lawyer, said after a court hearing Thursday. "They (Minnelli's lawyers) don't want it because they say it'll embarrass her" if it becomes public.

During the hearing, Dorothy Weber, a lawyer for Minnelli, said of the videotaping, "It's putting her in a position of having a video that could end up in the press." She said her client was worried about "the potential for abuse" of the tape.

When State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich said she understood the defense's reluctance and indicated she might excuse Minnelli from an on-camera deposition, Felder said he would appeal.

"I don't think there should be one rule for Ms. Minnelli because she's a movie star and another rule for everyone else," Felder told Kornreich.

The 57-year-old entertainer did not attend the hearing.

Felder said the law gives him the absolute right to videotape depositions, and he does it routinely. He said videotaping allows a better understanding of testimony, especially when a witness demonstrates physical movement - as in an assault case.

Gest, a 50-year-old producer, has filed two legal actions against Minnelli: a divorce petition and a $10 million lawsuit in which he alleges she beat him so badly that he suffered permanent injuries. He's undergoing treatment in Hawaii, Felder said.

Frederic J. Siegel, another Minnelli lawyer, has charged that Gest is hiding in Hawaii, using medical excuses to avoid giving a deposition.

Felder has responded that the injuries Minnelli inflicted on Gest and the "excruciating and unrelenting pain" in his head leave him unable to fly. Felder has suggested a tele-videoconference deposition, which Minnelli's lawyers have rejected.

Meanwhile, Minnelli has sued Gest, charging that he stole money from her. She's seeking at least $2 million in restitution, a financial accounting, legal fees and a court order for Gest to preserve all financial records related to her.

Minnelli and Gest married March 16, 2002, at a celebrity-studded ceremony that featured best man Michael Jackson carrying the bride's train and Elizabeth Taylor serving as maid of honor. They separated in July 2003.