News Article

Counting Crowe

Judge tosses Russell Crowe blackmail case. Two men acquitted of trying to blackmail Crowe with a fight video

Russell Crowe was supposed to be the victim in the trial of two men accused of blackmailing him, but instead, he was the only one punished. On Monday, a judge threw out the case, which had seen the defendants accused of trying to extort money with a videotape of him brawling outside a bar, according to published reports. But the trial had already spawned tabloid reports mocking the ''Gladiator'' star's apparent belligerence and weak real-life fighting skills.

A judge in Sydney, Australia, ruled that prosecutors had not provided enough evidence that the defendants -- Malcolm Mercer and Philip Cropper, both 38 -- had made a specific threat to try to get money from Crowe, according to the Associated Press. Much of the case revolved around taped phone conversations between the defendants; the tapes included Mercer's assessment of Crowe's brawling style as ''spastic.'' ''He's belted three people and they've all stood there and there's, like, nothing wrong with 'em,'' Mercer said, according to the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

The videotape of Crowe's brawl ultimately aired on Australian TV. There's no word yet on when it'll pop up on a ''When Celebrities Attack'' special.

Originally posted Jun 25, 2002