By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Sources close to the case at the time told me Fields blamed Weitzman for the blunder because the wrong information had come to Fields directly from Weitzman. And that’s not all: Fields privately told friends he felt Weitzman, tired of toiling in Fields’ imposing shadow as a Hollywood litigator, may have gone so far as to sabotage Fields’ involvement in Jackson’s defense. Wait, there’s more. There was even a behind-the-scenes battle over Fields’ subsequent departure from Jackson’s defense: Did he jump or was he pushed? Weitzman quietly told reporters that Fields was fired from the team for mishandling that court hearing. Then Jackson’s family, reportedly furious at Fields, issued a statement that they could "sleep better at night" with Johnnie Cochran onboard.
But, Fields went so far as to publicly dispute any notion that he’d been let go by the Jacksons or anyone; he said he’d resigned on November 23 but had not put it in writing until 10 days later so as not to distract from Jackson’s defense efforts. Privately, Fields explained his reason for exiting was because he no longer wanted to work with Weitzman.
Fields appeared little hurt by the bad publicity. Weitzman eventually found himself in one uncomfortable predicament after another. Though he also had many successes, Weitzman received a lot of flak when he initially lost the Boxing Helena lawsuit defending Kim Basinger since Hollywood had perceived it as a slam dunk for the actress. Not long after, Weitzman, who’d earlier defended O.J. Simpson following a wife-beating arrest, was the first lawyer called by the football star to defend himself against murder charges. Weitzman’s involvement with O.J. made him a Hollywood pariah.
Fields took great pleasure in any Weitzman setback. When Weitzman was going to MCA/Universal in 1995 to assist newly appointed president and COO Ron Meyer, I asked if Weitzman’s hiring was to shore up any Meyer shortcomings. "Which are made shorter by Howard," Fields shot back.
After being forced out of MCA/Universal in 1998, Weitzman pitched several show-biz projects, but eventually beat a retreat back to lawyering.
Fields, meanwhile, was more successful than ever, earning a nickname as "The Exterminator" for the way that he seemed to be suing the Walt Disney Co. 24/7. Since Fields works in isolation from the rest of his firm, and even other lawyers at Greenberg Glusker don’t know his cases until they hit the headlines, he and Weitzman will be able to keep at arm’s length rather easily. On the other hand, Weitzman, 60, likes to say, "I’m the logical successor to Bert Fields."
Told about that, Fields, 76, chuckled, "That may turn out to be true. But people in my family live a long time. I’m not going anywhere so fast."
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