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Zeta-Jones faces fat legal bill
Fri 23 January, 2004 13:23

By Peter Graff

LONDON (Reuters) - Hollywood power couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have been landed with a fat bill after spending millions to "win" a court fight with a magazine that printed unauthorised photos of their wedding.

The litigious stars were awarded a mere 14,600 pounds last year in their bruising court fight with Hello! magazine, which printed paparazzi snaps from their wedding after they had sold exclusive rights to rival glossy gossip sheet OK!

But then came the fight over the legal bills.

The lawsuit cost nearly four million pounds to prosecute, and a High Court judge said on Friday that Hello! should only pay two million, leaving the "winners" -- OK! and the Douglases -- stuck with the rest.

Hello! was also forced to pay OK! the million pounds that OK! had paid the couple for the scoop.

The ruling did not spell out what share of the legal bill for the expensive victory would be borne by the Douglases and what share by OK!, but lawyers said the stars were bound to lose out.

"However you look at the figures, they are going to be hugely out of pocket. Their damages will be more than wiped out," Hello!'s lawyer Christopher Hutchings said.

Last year's trial, with a cast of gossip-brokers, paparazzi and other characters from the colourful world of celebrity publishing, unleashed a stream of negative publicity for just about everyone involved.

Newspapers especially revelled in mocking Zeta-Jones's complaints that the unauthorised photos were unflattering because they showed her while eating. One headline called the Oscar winner "Catherine Eater-Jones".

As with all good Hollywood stories, the sequel is already in the works. A court ruled last week that an appeal can go ahead, giving all the players a fresh opportunity to spend their millions trashing each other.

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