Fresh from her pyrrhic victory in her wedding-photo lawsuit, Catherine Zeta-Jones has a new beef, this one over the Atkins Diet. Despite news reports that have been circulating for more than a year that say the ''Chicago'' Oscar winner is a devotee of the low-carb weight loss plan, she's insisting that she has not shed pounds via Atkins, and her lawyer has sent a letter to various media outlets warning them not to print such stories.
In the letter, posted at The Smoking Gun, attorney John Lavely complains that Zeta-Jones' ''likeness and persona have been improperly linked'' to the Atkins diet by the media and asserts that she has never been on the diet, much less endorsed it. He says such stories are misleading to ''the average reader, including many young women who look up to my client and admire her beautiful appearance.'' Lavely worries that the linkage could hurt Zeta-Jones ability to land endorsement for other health and beauty products, and he notes the health concerns many nutritionists and scientists have expressed about the diet. Still, he says, ''In essence, my client is being made to look as if she's more concerned about her outward appearance than she is with serious health concerns.'' He concludes by warning that the actress intends to ''pursue claims'' against every media outlet that has linked her to the diet or does so in the future.
Zeta-Jones, who (along with husband Michael Douglas) was awarded just $24,000 last week by a British court in the couple's action against a magazine that published unauthorized wedding photos from their 2000 nuptials, sued a French cosmetics company in September, seeking $15 million from Caudalie for allegedly using her name on its website as an implied endorsement of its skin-care products.
As for where the Atkins linkage to Zeta-Jones originated, Richard Rothstein, spokesman for the Atkins Nutritional Institution, told The Smoking Gun that he hasn't a clue. ''It's never been our policy to seek celebrity endorsements,'' Rothstein said. ''Where tabloids get their info is a complete mystery to us.''