Paris Hilton won't owe $8.3 million for film flop

Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:57pm EDT
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MIAMI (Reuters) - Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton will not have to pay $8.3 million in damages claimed by the receiver for a defunct entertainment firm who said she failed to promote a movie flop called "Pledge This!"

But the decision by U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno on Monday left open the possibility the receiver might be able to claw back part of a $1 million fee paid to Hilton for the 2006 National Lampoon movie.

Michael Goldberg, a court-appointed receiver for Worldwide Entertainment Group, sued Hilton and her company, Paris Hilton Entertainment, for breach of contract, alleging she failed to properly promote the film, in which she played the president of a sorority at fictional South Beach University.

Goldberg sought to recoup the $8.3 million cost of producing the movie, including Hilton's $1 million fee.

During a two-day trial in the Miami federal court, Hilton testified she did her best to promote the movie.

In his ruling, Moreno referred to Hilton as a "celebrity promoter," said the film was "hardly destined for critical acclaim" and noted that Hilton was paid $1 million for "acting" and "executive producer services."

Moreno said there was compelling evidence the movie lost money "because the film's inexperienced producers hastily cobbled together a wholly inadequate marketing plan."

"Any causal connection between Ms. Hilton's alleged breaches and the financial ruin of the film are wholly speculative," Moreno wrote.

The judge gave the receiver until August 26 to submit arguments that Hilton should pay back parts of her $1 million acting and producing fee.

(Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and John O'Callaghan)

<p>U.S. socialite Paris Hilton poses at a party in downtown Beirut July 3, 2009. Picture taken July 3, 2009. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir</p>