That Valerie Harper! The nerve of her — having the unmitigated gall to go and get cancer!
Those could be the cries of a Broadway producer, who claims his stage production was thrown into a “financial tailspin” when the beloved actress was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and didn’t tell anyone. The cancer cells later spread to the lining of Harper’s brain, forming a terminal, inoperable tumor.
Michael Lombardo is suing the cancer-stricken Harper, who he says didn’t tell him the truth about her medical condition after being cast in a play that was about to embark on a national tour. Lombardo says he spotted the first signs of trouble during rehearsals for the comedy Looped. After watching Valerie butcher lines and slur her way through dialogue, the producer insisted she see a doctor.
It was only then, he says, that she revealed her illness.
Valerie was forced to pull out of the production and Lombardo claims it cost him $150,000 to hire last-minute replacement Stefanie Powers. He’s seeking an additional $1.5 million in damages.
Lombardo’s lawyer, Leslie H. Ben-Zvi, hits back at protests that his client is waging war against a dying woman. The suit, the attorney argues is a defense to a suit first filed by Harper. The actress maintains she wasn’t paid the full value of her Looped contract.
“It never would have occurred to Mr. Lombardo to sue Valerie Harper and he did not. He was, at the time, resigned to simply accept his financial losses and to celebrate Ms. Harper’s renewed health along with her many fans. Sadly, a lawsuit was filed against him seeking compensation even though Ms. Harper never actually performed in Looped on tour and even though her husband stopped paying all tour-related bills upon which the producers and actors had been relying. This of course, plunged the Looped tour into a tailspin.”