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Sue, Sue, Sue Again

Is Citizen McCaw Headed to Court?


New Lawsuit Hovering?: Some News-Press watchers huddled in kaffeeklatsches hear that owner Wendy McCaw has an itch to sue makers of the documentary Citizen McCaw and is looking for an attorney willing to file the case.

NP attorney Barry Cappello, who has previously dubbed it a “docudrama,” didn’t have a public comment Monday when I asked him about a possible suit.

But the word is that so far McCaw hasn’t found a lawyer ready and willing to take the case, even at the presumed rate of $800 per hour. So what would she allege? True, the film did not show her in a rosy glow, but then the filmmakers say she and her people refused to comment for the film to give her side of things, no matter what scenario the producers suggested.

And you can bet every inch of the high-def film was scrutinized by the producers’ lawyers before it was screened. Not that an over-lawyered movie would prevent a motivated and rich plaintiff from heading to the courthouse with a thick lawsuit, surrounded by attorneys in expensive suits.

When you’re sued by Wendy you’re looking at hefty attorney bills to defend yourself. Powerful publisher William Randolph Hearst became infuriated about Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, but he didn’t sue.

Hearst used the power of the press and his Hollywood connections so effectively that what movie historians call the greatest film ever made turned out to be a box office failure. And boy wonder Welles never recovered his momentum and reputation.

Meanwhile, Citizen McCaw makers have plans to show the documentary to new audiences and at some point, the last I heard, sell DVDs. A suit by McCaw likely would have the effect of turning a film of mostly local interest into a national cause celebre.

Hero of the Week: You might call it the case of the missing window screen. Santa Barbara police officer Tyler Larson, investigating a report of a naked man threatening to kill a family, then fleeing, noticed a screen torn off another apartment. Suspicious, he knocked at the front door and sensed by subtle eye movements of the man who answered that the bad guy was there somewhere. Tyler ran in, spotted the guy in the bedroom holding a woman in a chokehold and Tasered him. Result: A couple saved from further harm and the suspect in custody.

Sister Christine
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Sue De Lapa

Sister Christine

Sis Chris’s Book: Santa Barbara’s Sister Christine (OSF) will be signing her new book, St. Anne’s Century of Service: A Legacy of Love, at Feed My Sheep bookstore on Wednesday, May 21. The book tells the story of the 100 years that the Los Angeles area charity has taken in and cared for young pregnant women and given them love and understanding. The signing will be at 4141 State Street, 6-8 p.m.

Hidden Gardens: Sue and I won’t be building birdhouses again this year. CAMA (Community Arts Music Association) has decided that the fun birdhouse-making fundraiser has run its course. But CAMA will be staging its eighth annual Hidden Gardens tour in Montecito on June 8. You get a gander at gardens not usually open to the public and finish with wine, music, and hors d’oeuvres in the garden of a yet-unnamed historical estate. Reservations due by May 30, info at 565-3936.

Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour
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Sue De Lapa

Pearl Chase Society Historic Homes Tour

Historic Homes: Pearl Chase would have loved it: Nearly 1,000 people on Sunday roaming Santa Barbara’s legacy of Upper Eastside homes built between the turn of the last century and 1930. The Pearl Chase Society puts on the annual tour, with proceeds going to its good works in remembrance of the late civic activist and preservationist.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 805-965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.

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