The ears are off in the bitter battle between Jeffrey Katzenberg and his former employer, the Walt Disney Co. On April 9, the DreamWorks exec filed a $250 million breach-of-contract suit against the studio. Katzenberg’s 1994 breakup with Disney was — like any good Hollywood divorce — very public and very acrimonious. According to court papers, Katzenberg claims he hasn’t been paid an ”incentive bonus,” as stipulated in his contract, of 2 percent of the profits of all movies and TV shows developed during his 10 years at Disney. Katzenberg is asking that a Los Angeles court order Disney to open its books so he can accurately analyze the studio’s finances. A Disney spokesman says, ”There’s been quite a spin game played. Now the matter can be decided according to the facts.”… The ax drops on Hammer: On April 3, the recording artist, 34, whose 1990 hit ”U Can’t Touch This” became the biggest rap song of all time, filed for bankruptcy in Oakland. The rapper’s showy lifestyle once included a 20-room mansion, a string of racehorses, and a ranking of No. 19 on Forbes magazine’s 1991 list of highest-paid entertainers; he now claims debts of $10 million. Among the hundreds of creditors: American Express (with a bill of $28,650.64), while unspecified amounts are owed to AT&T, MCI, and multi-sport star Deion Sanders.
Contrary to published reports, Gregory Peck, 80, is not calling it quits. ”People who know him know that he isn’t the retiring sort,” says a stunned Monroe Friedman, Peck’s spokesman. ”If the right script comes along, he’ll be in front of the camera.” Peck was in France when the rumor started. ”Maybe he said he was retiring for the night,” guesses Friedman. The Oscar-winning star of To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) most recently appeared on the big screen in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear.
DEATHS Academy Award-winning actor and rodeo champion Ben Johnson, 75, of an apparent heart attack April 8 in Mesa, Ariz. While working as a stuntman and horse wrangler on 1948’s Fort Apache, Johnson was discovered by director John Ford, who subsequently cast him in such Westerns as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950). Johnson won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the down-and-out pool-hall manager in 1971’s The Last Picture Show…. Academy Award-winning actress Greer Garson, 92, April 6, in Dallas, of heart failure. The Irish-born Garson got her start on the stage and rose to prominence in the ’30s and ’40s, playing noble women in films such as Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Pride and Prejudice, and Random Harvest. But it was her portrayal as a steadfast, loving Mrs. Miniver in the 1942 movie that won her an Oscar — her only win out of an impressive six nominations — and made her one of the most beloved actresses of her generation. With her third marriage to oil magnate E.E. ”Buddy” Fogelson in 1949, she embarked upon a second career as a philanthropist, donating money to Southern Methodist University and the College of Santa Fe in support of the performing arts.