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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dumped Dunaway Sues 'Sunset' Producer

LOS ANGELES -- In retaliation for being dumped from the Los Angeles production of "Sunset Boulevard," Faye Dunaway has filed a $6 million-plus lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against composer/producer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Really Useful Company.


The movie star was to have taken over the role of Norma Desmond on July 5 but, only three days before Glenn Close was to leave the role on June 26, Lloyd Webber abruptly announced that Close's final performance would be the swan song for the entire Los Angeles production. Dunaway, he contended, could not sing the role well enough.


Dunaway, the star of "Bonny and Clyde" who won an Academy Award for her role in "Network," is seeking $1 million for breach of contract, at least $5 million for a variety of defamation and fraud charges, plus punitive damages.


Dunaway, who had no previous stage experience as a singer, was hired for the role in May. Had she assumed it, her salary would have been $25,000 a week, plus 5 percent of the weekly gross over $700,000. With full houses, she could have earned as much as $38,000 a week.


The lawsuit paves the way for another high-profile celebrity trial -- or, as Dunaway's attorney Pierce O'Donnell jocularly called it in an interview Thursday, "Dunaway vs. Webber -- The 'Sunset Boulevard' You Never Saw." The case has been assigned to Judge Michael Berg but probably will not go to trial before next year, O'Donnell said.


Lloyd Webber, whose musicals include "Cats," "Starlight Express," and "Jesus Christ, Superstar," could not be reached for comment.


Spokesman Peter Brown responded angrily to the suit. "We've never seen a lawsuit with so little foundation. It's a stick-up and we're not going to tolerate it."


In the 37-page complaint filed Thursday, O'Donnell contends Dunaway was cast as "a stalking horse to test the financial viability" of the show and that Lloyd Webber fired Dunaway out of "greed."


The suit states that when advance sales for "Sunset Boulevard" diminished, the producer and his investors decided to save money by sending the already-seasoned L.A. cast to the Broadway production scheduled to open in November. It also contends that the closing was aimed to recoup some of the the Lloyd Webber group's L.A. investment by selling the L.A. set to the upcoming Toronto production, which it claims was announced one day before Lloyd Webber's decision to fire Dunaway.