Michael Douglas' ex-wife has lost a bid to cash in on his earnings from his recent "Wall Street" follow-up, with a judge saying her case is too much of a Hollywood divorce to set a sequel in a New York court.
A Manhattan judge dismissed Diandra Douglas' lawsuit against the Academy Award-winning actor in a ruling made public Monday. The judge said the dispute doesn't belong in a New York court because the former couple's complex, multimillion-dollar divorce agreement was hashed out in Santa Barbara, Calif.
"After balancing all competing interests and factors, the California court is the more convenient forum for this matter to be tried," state Supreme Court Justice Matthew F. Cooper wrote.
Michael Douglas was "very happy" with the New York lawsuit ruling, his lawyer, Marilyn B. Chinitz, said Monday. While it stuck to the question of where the case belongs, not who should win, Chinitz said she was confident the actor would prevail if his ex pursues it further. The couple divorced in 2000 after 23 years together.
Diandra Douglas' lawyer said she plans to appeal. Both Douglases have homes in New York, and "the case should be decided here," said the lawyer, Nancy Chemtob.
Diandra Douglas' camp has said she should get half the actor's earnings from this year's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" because their divorce deal gives her a share of proceeds from projects related to work he did when they were married, such as the original "Wall Street."
"Mr. Douglas is seeking to shirk his financial responsibility that was entered into when he signed this contract," Chemtob said at an August hearing.
The first "Wall Street" film, which was directed by Oliver Stone and co-starred Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah, was released in 1987. Michael Douglas reprised his Oscar-winning role as no-holds-barred financier Gordon Gekko, who famously declared "greed is good," in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." The sequel, released in September, has grossed more than $100 million worldwide.
Michael Douglas' lawyer said that the actor's ex was misinterpreting the divorce agreement and that it didn't apply to the "Wall Street" sequel, which wasn't on the horizon when the two split.
"When does it stop? ... She's not Mrs. Michael Douglas" anymore, Chinitz said at the August hearing.
Indeed, the current Mrs. Michael Douglas is Oscar-winning actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose movies include "The Mask of Zorro" and "Chicago." She and Douglas appeared in "Traffic."
Michael and Diandra Douglas' divorce pact specified that future money disputes would be resolved in California — and that's where courts are best equipped to handle it, the judge wrote in his decision, first reported by the New York Post.
"The ultimate determination of much of the case may very well involve the interpretation and application of the term 'spin-offs' — a term of art most closely associated with Hollywood's film and television industry," he noted.
The former couple's marriage was put under an uncomfortable spotlight earlier this year, when son Cameron Douglas faced sentencing after pleading guilty to a federal drug charge for dealing methamphetamine from a trendy Manhattan hotel. In a letter to his son's judge, Michael Douglas described the union as a "bad marriage."
Both parents were in court when Cameron Douglas, 31, was sentenced in April to five years in prison.
Michael Douglas, 66, revealed in August that he was fighting throat cancer. The star of movies including "Romancing the Stone," "Basic Instinct" and "Fatal Attraction" finished his treatments last month and is recuperating, publicist Allen Burry said.
"It's a long haul," Burry said Monday. "He continues to improve."