UPDATED 10:34 AM: The Mark Gordon Co. dismissed its petition for a restraining order against a man for alleged threats against staff over the Aaron Hernandez movie project. The judge formalized the Feb. 27 dismissal this morning in a Santa Monica courtroom where the accused Todd Guzze attended, clad in a suit and tie. Guzze appeared ready to talk to the Court with papers in hand before finding out about the dismissal.
Guzze’s alleged threats came, according to documents filed earlier this month, in phone calls and emails to staffers at the Mark Gordon Co. over a movie project about a rights issue for the story about the former NFL tight end who was convicted of murder. Guzze, who has said he had the rights to the project, would not comment to Deadline for this article.
EXCLUSIVE: The Santa Monica Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division is looking into alleged threats made to employees of The Mark Gordon Entertainment Co. after staffers of the production entity filed a restraining order petition earlier this month against a man named Todd Guzze for allegedly threatening them over rights issues on a movie about former NFL star-turned-convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez.
While waiting for their petition to be heard by the court, the company last week filed the police report with the Santa Monica Police Department. Deadline was told by a law enforcement officer on the case that the Criminal Investigations Division is working to determine whether Guzze’s correspondence and phone calls rank as “criminal threats.” That has not yet been determined.
This all comes after a January 17 report that the Mark Gordon Company, which is behind Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game, had acquired feature film rights to All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the Superstar Whose Life Ended on Murderer’s Row. The upcoming book, to be published next January by Hatchette Book Group imprint Little, Brown and Company, is penned by bestselling author James Patterson and Alex Abramovich, with Mike Harvkey, based on their investigative reporting. It will dissect the story of Hernandez, the former all-star tight end for the New England Patriots who was convicted of murder in 2015, later indicted but acquitted of a second murder, and who committed suicide in his prison cell last year.
According to the petition, Guzze sent emails to Mark Gordon employee Josh Clay Phillips stating that the gangs Bloods and the Latin Kings are part of Guzze’s own Aaron Hernandez project. Guzze wrote in an email, dated January 29, that said in part: “so I don’t need to tell you how they work … I’m keeping them at bay right now, they don’t even know this is going on at this second. So that’s my last little tidbit for you, and they’re right here in L.A.” Attached to the email were photos of men holding guns.
When asked about the perceived threats against Mark Gordon employees, Guzze emailed us: “The Entertainment Industry is big business, and it usually lacks a sense of humor. We’ve had to use guerrilla marketing techniques, at times, in order to get some people’s attention. We’re not the first ones to do it, and we won’t be the last. This is not about Aaron Hernandez, Natalie Wood, or Emmett Till. This is about a group of artists, some minority, that have worked really hard to get to this point, and are just looking for a specific window of opportunity to shine, or be recognized.”
Guzze has also repeatedly threatened litigation against the production company and Hachette, though no lawsuit has been filed on the matter — at least not that we can find. Guzze also would not answer when Deadline repeatedly asked for the name of his lawyer.
Guzze contacted the Mark Gordon Entertainment Co. and the general counsel for the Hachette Book Group a day after press reports confirmed the project was in the works. That correspondence was long and direct, and was perceived by both companies to be threatening in nature.
While offering to partner, Guzze was also at the same time warning of legal action. The correspondence ended with: “You want it, I’m right here. I’ll give it to you. If you ignore me, or try to play HOLLYWOOD EGO games, I’ll implode it.”
According to court documents filed by The Mark Gordon Co., the correspondence was ongoing as Guzze claimed to own the rights to the project with the Hernandez family. He was told, however, by the production company that the Hernandez story is public domain.
It went on from there. Voicemails and a Facebook post were submitted to the court showing that Guzze copied a photo of Phillips and his wife from Phillips’ personal Facebook account with the statement: “Is this you? From Aaron Hernandez?” and “Are you ready??” and “I hope it’s worth it.”
The restraining order petition was filed February 7, and hearing is set for March 1.
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