Book Excerpt: 'A Promise to Ourselves'

Rather than protect her, the system left her physically, emotionally and financially broken. From the start, the plaintiffs' lawyer, a vicious, menacing woman named Patty Glazier, posited the case as a showdown between a rich, privileged movie star and struggling film makers who had to work hard for whatever meager success they had achieved. Kim, Glazier said, was like the pretty girl in school who bypassed the rules with impunity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kim had a very professional work ethic, but the jury bought it.

Adding to the injury, Kim's agents had originally been named as co-defendants. Half way through the proceedings they successfully petitioned the court to be dismissed from the case, yet the judge inexplicably withheld this ruling from the jury. That meant the go-it-alone Kim bore the sole financial responsibility for the eventual $9 million judgment.

After the verdict, the judge, Judith Chirlin, strode across the courtroom and hugged the plaintiffs in full view of the entire proceeding. Even Kim's veteran attorney, Howard Weitzman, was aghast. In subsequent depositions, one juror said that $9 million was little more than a "parking ticket" to someone like Kim.

The lawsuit and judgment exacted a steep emotional, as well as financial, price. Los Angeles is a town completely consumed by perception. The woman who was wealthier and more famous than I was when I met her in 1990 was now bankrupt and humiliated three years later.

After the jury handed down its decision, Kim and I returned to her home in Los Angeles, where the stress and losses of the trial took their toll. One evening, she collapsed under the weight, sobbing on the deck beside her pool. Prior to the verdict in the trial, some friends had encouraged me to end this relationship. They told me that she was self-destructive. Watching her lying there, however, I thought to myself, How can I leave her now?

Kim was not one for self-pity. She would cry for the poor, the homeless, for abused animals, but never for herself. Like my father, her suffering came because she had stood on principle. However, this time I had the resources to do something to help. Soon after, I proposed and Kim accepted.

Perhaps she needed security, support and financial resources to help her navigate the white water she was about to encounter while appealing her verdict and living under bankruptcy jurisdiction. Perhaps while crushed under the weight of an unfair verdict, she needed to believe that someone would help her, would stand by her and take her side. I wanted to be that person. On August 19th of 1993, we were married.

When relationships begin, romance ought be the order of the day. The first couple of years should be a time of candlelight and intimate conversation, travel and entertainment. My relationship with my ex-wife was no different, at least during our first two years together. Life held no stress, no entanglements. We would jet off to London on a whim, or pass the time reading scripts that producers had sent our way. Life seemed easy and I enjoyed Kim's company enormously.

Everything changed with the lawsuit and Kim's subsequent bankruptcy proceedings. Our life became an endless procession of lawyers delivering a ceaseless chorus of bad news. Lawyers advised Kim to declare federal bankruptcy, but what she thought would bring relief only unleashed more pain.

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