May 15, 2009
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Farrow and Soon-Yi won't testify at Allen trial

May 15, 2009

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Woody Allen's ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow and his wife Soon-Yi Previn will not be called to testify at a trial pitting the movie director against American Apparel, a lawyer for the clothing company said on Thursday 14 May.

U.S. director Woody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi - Photo: REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Allen sued the U.S. clothing company for false advertising more than a year ago seeking more than $10 million (6.57 million pounds) after the American film director's image appeared on billboards in New York and Los Angeles. Allen says his image was damaged and used for profit without his consent.

Barring a last-minute settlement, the trial is scheduled to start Monday in Manhattan federal court and the 73-year-old Allen may testify.

Allen's lawyers asked the judge earlier this month to prevent American Apparel from calling Farrow and Previn after their names appeared on a possible witness list.

American Apparel lawyer Stuart Slotnick said on Thursday the trial would centre on free speech rights.

"American Apparel has no intention of calling Mia Farrow or Mr Allen's wife as witnesses at the trial," he said.

American Apparel CEO Dov Charney and the company's lawyers argue the advertisements did not have a commercial purpose and were intended as a parody.

"At trial we will explain how the use of the image from the 'Annie Hall' film was used to make a social statement and address social issues that were already subject to public discourse," said Slotnick.

In the advertisements, which also appeared on Web sites, Allen is dressed as a Hasidic Jew with a beard and black hat.

Charney thought of using Allen's image in April 2007, when he was watching a dream sequence in Allen's film "Annie Hall," court papers say.

Like Allen's character in the film, Charney felt he was being negatively perceived due to sexual harassment lawsuits, court papers filed by American Apparel say.

"Not only did Mr. Charney connect to the character's predicament in that scene, Mr. Charney connected to the public scandal that had plagued Mr Allen's personal life," the court papers said.

Allen was the subject of public scandal when in 1992, Farrow discovered he was having an affair with her 22-year-old adopted daughter, Soon-Yi. Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in 1997.

Allen says he does not engage in commercial endorsements of products in the United States and has a reputation for not reaping commercial profits from the sale of his identity.

American Apparel founder Dov Charney said in a statement released last week that he had "deep respect" for Allen, who was "a source of inspiration to me."

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Jill Serjeant)

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