UPDATE Adds full statement from a Relativity spokesman, below:
EARLIER: It wasn’t Jonas, but Hollywood had its own snowstorm this weekend, in a mini-blizzard of releases from Ryan Kavanaugh‘s mouthpieces hoping to defang New York magazine’s stinging exposé of the dethroned mogul. Kavanaugh’s first attempt to have the story killed already had backfired, and his post-publication pouting managed to strike fear in the hearts of no one, certainly not at the magazine.
The story, by Benjamin Wallace, paints the dangling head of Relativity Media as a private-jet-addicted, expensive-gift-showering spendthrift operating out of a hangar at Santa Monica Airport. “To work at Relativity in the last several years was to live in the palace of a magical-realist King,” Wallace wrote of a chief who, according to the story, had toilet paper imprinted with Barack Obama’s visage and roamed his offices on a Segway.
“The piece speaks for itself. The response [from Kavanaugh] was vague and expressed his displeasure about the piece. We feel as confident in it now as we did before it went to press.”—New York magazine
On Sunday, Relativity issued a statement accusing the magazine of making up or rehashing very mean gossip that “fit its predetermined narrative” about the company and its founder:
“New York magazine has published a defamatory story about Relativity which deplorably embodies that old newsroom saying, ‘Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.’ The article is filled with unsubstantiated gossip and allegations which opportunistically fit its predetermined narrative about Relativity and its founder, Ryan Kavanaugh. Prior to the story’s publication, we provided the magazine with actual facts and data that its editors and reporter chose to ignore. We remain focused on completing and receiving approval for our plan of reorganization and look forward to our emergence as a stronger company.”
A little while later came a second release throwing in a few more unkind words, including “slander,” while slinging some mud in the direction of reporter Wallace. Last week, before the publication, the New York Post reported that in a letter to New York editor Adam Moss, lawyer Anthony Glassman accused Wallace of “intentionally cherry pick[ing] random allegations spanning Mr. Kavanaugh’s teenage and adult years. … He clearly plans to weave together harmful fiction with banal truths to create a narrative that Mr. Kavanaugh and Relativity are untrustworthy with a long history of unethical behavior.”
All this, of course, had the unintended — but obvious to anyone with a brain — consequence of sending everyone in the industry to the New York website to read the piece (OK, it’s here.). As for Kavanaugh’s behavior over the years running a multimillion-dollar media business, you only need to search Deadline’s archives to learn many of the same truths about Kavanaugh reported in the New York piece.
Reached today for comment, David Haskell, the magazine’s deputy editor, who worked with Wallace on the story, told Deadline: “The piece speaks for itself. The response [from Kavanaugh] was vague and expressed his displeasure about the piece. We feel as confident in it now as we did before it went to press.”
One of Kavanaugh’s complaints was that Relativity was given just four days to respond to allegations in the story. Haskell’s return volley was only slightly snarky: “It was seven days,” he said, “though it included a three-day weekend.” The amount of time, he said, “was negotiated in December, when we told them we would give them seven days to respond.”
Haskell said that neither the magazine nor Wallace has heard from Kevin Spacey or Dana Brunetti. As Deadline exclusively reported, the Trigger Street partners recently were named to run the studio as chairman and president, respectively, which hopes to pull out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after a hearing next week. They were busy this morning announcing a five-year co-financing deal with the Los Angeles Media Fund.