Kausfiles Special

Willy Sue?

On Page 138 of the November Premiere, senior editor Holly Millea tells her side of a heated encounter with Peter Kaufman, son of director Philip Kaufman and a producer of his father’s upcoming movie, Quills. In Millea’s account, she was scheduled to interview Quills star Kate Winslet while Winslet was being driven home from the set after a day’s work. When Millea pulled up in Winslet’s hired car, Kaufman confronted her and (according to Millea) ordered a crew member to “Get her out of here. Now!” Millea quotes Winslet’s driver as saying, afterwards, “I wanted to slug him. … That’s wee-willy syndrome, there.” Take that, Mr. Son-of-Sexy-Yet-Classy-but-Commercially-Disappointing-Film-Director! Millea also notes that Winslet later defended the younger Kaufman as “just fiercely protective of his actors.”

Imagine the hilarity in Premiere’s legal department when the magazine received a letter from Peter Kaufman’s lawyer objecting to the “wee-willy” passage and hinting at legal action. Was Kaufman charging that the description was false, and that his willy was not, in fact, wee? Would he submit to a discovery on the matter? Can’t you have “wee-willy syndrome” without actually having a wee willy? Think of the potential for a Court TV sweeps-week special! Premiere’s editor, James Meigs, acknowledges receiving a lawyer-letter, and says, “We stand by our story.” But surely Peter Kaufman wouldn’t be stupid enough to let himself become known as the man who brought the Wee-Willy Lawsuit, would he?

Alas, he’s probably not. When kausfiles contacted him, Kaufman seemed in an affable, non-litigious mood. The letter, he said, was “just a thing that our lawyers do. It’s pretty well over now.” Kaufman did contend that Millea’s article was “pretty vicious” and “not accurate,” and offered his side of the confrontation, which was basically that Millea “kept coming” when he asked her to stay away. But will he sue? “I have no plans. I just don’t want to comment on that.” A subsequent call to his lawyer, Barry Tyerman, went unreturned.

The only hope now is that this item itself will somehow goad Kaufman into bringing his suit …