CULTURE

Technicalities in Kevin Hart’s $60 Million Sex Tape Lawsuit Conceal Larger Questions

Whether the judge dismisses in this case or not, the larger issues remain in doubt

Amy Sussman/Getty Images and Backgrid

On Friday it was reported that comedian and movie star Kevin Hart was asking the judge to dismiss the $60 million lawsuit that was brought against him by plaintiff Montia Sabbag over a 2017 sex tape.

The suit, which Hart has described as "baseless," was previously dismissed due to errors in filing—before being corrected and filed again—and it's now being challenged on the grounds that Hart was never formally served the court documents. Rather than delivering the documents directly to Hart or an officially sanctioned representative, new court documents allege that a process server working for Sabbag simply "drove by Hart's home and threw a summons and complaint out of a car window."

Kevin Hart Sex Tape A still from the footage leaked to TMZ

A security guard who was stationed outside of Hart's home at the time was the only person connected to Hart who was on hand at the time and was not authorized to accept the documents on Hart's behalf—even if they had been handed over, rather than being strewn on the ground "several yards away from him."

These kinds of legal formalities are often enough to get a case dismissed, and they can lead to mounting legal fees that motivate a plaintiff to drop their suit or settle out of court. If that happens in this case, then the court will never address the big question in this case: Did Hart, as Sabbag claims, conspire to secretly film their sexual encounter in order to gain publicity for a planned comedy tour?

The incident in question took place in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2017, and both parties engaged with each other consensually, though Sabbag asserts that she never agreed to be filmed. At the time, Hart had been married to his wife, Eniko Parrish, for less than a year, and she was eight-months pregnant with their son Kenzo. Hart has publicly apologized for cheating on his wife and expressed remorse for the pain he caused her, saying, "With Eniko, when I got to see the effect my reckless behavior had, that was crushing. That tore me up." Taken in tandem with the fact that Hart's former friend J.T. Jackson allegedly attempted to extort Hart for $5 million in exchange for not releasing the tape, it seems strange that Hart would have planned any publicity surrounding the tape. Sabbag's claim that he was involved in filming her without her consent is harder to counter.

Kevin Hart with Pregnant Eniko Parrish WireImage

Sabbag, who hired attorney Lisa Bloom to represent her in the case (before Bloom's reputation was damaged by revelations of the work she did protecting Harvey Weinstein), also claims that Hart's behavior led her to believe that he wasn't married. She described her impression of him when they met on a private plane from Los Angeles to Las Vegas as "a gentleman, a nice guy," but that opinion evidently changed after footage of the two of them together was leaked to the Internet. Sabbag, who has variously described herself as a recording artist, a makeup artist, and an actress, has denied any involvement in the extortion plot and resisted attempts to label her a "stripper" based on an adult entertainment license in Nevada and an old video of her pole-dancing.

While many plaintiffs in Sabbag's position would likely be dissuaded from going after a famous and wealthy client when faced with continued legal roadblocks, Lisa Bloom—much like her mother, Gloria Allred—often represents women on a pro bono basis in high profile cases like this. Couple that with the notoriety that the aspiring performer has leveraged into photoshoots and interviews, and it seems unlikely that these tactics will deter her.

It remains to be seen if the court will find her case convincing.

Satire

Elder Gods Apologize for Delay in Rollout of the Apocalypse

Production on the end of the world has been a mess since day one

With June of 2020 nearly here and no sign of the final cataclysm we've been promised, it's beginning to seem like The End Times will forever be near, without ever being upon us.

While the early phases of civilization's collapse into a burning hellscape were promising, progress on the more dramatic culmination of armageddon has been repeatedly stalled by restructuring, miscommunication, and the high rate of turnover within the ranks of the Great Old Ones' loyal subjects.

"The slow burn is great and all," said John Knӕlgghyrt, née Phillips, who was briefly the high priest of Cthulhu's Dark Order—prior to being scooped unceremoniously into his lord's tentacled maw—"but trying to get the big stuff done has been a real challenge." The main struggle he points to is the lack of cohesion and structural order among the death cult working haplessly to hasten Earth's return to a state of desolation and chaos. "It's like herding cats sometimes. Insane, death-obsessed cats."

Keep Reading Show less
FILM

Why Is Ricky Gervais Hosting the Golden Globes Again?

No Host Would Actually Be a Lot Better

People

Last January, Ricky Gervais—who has hosted the Golden Globes four times before—claimed that if he had hosted the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards, "it would have been the end of [my] career."

He said this in the context of expressing his jealousy of Seth Meyers, who hosted that year. In a time of cultural shift and increased sensitivity to various issues, the "comedian" seemed to be suggesting that his particular brand of offensive and insensitive material would both flourish in that context and invite a harsh backlash. It's unclear what, if anything, has changed since then, but it has just been announced that the Hollywood Foreign Press is having Gervais reprise his hosting duties for a fifth time. Why?

Gervais despair "After Life"

Remember when Kevin Hart was bumped from hosting the Oscars because his apology for old homophobic jokes wasn't good enough? Well Gervais has never apologized for his bad jokes. In fact, he continues making them. He is proudly behind the times. He has made an ongoing point of expressing his passionate ignorance of trans issues as crassly and as often as possible. In his Netflix stand-up special, he "jokes" that he has "always felt like a chimp," and he's claimed in various tweets to identify as thin, black, a poor green lesbian, and a comedian. That last one is particularly galling. Can you really be a comedian if you just keep repeating one joke?

It wasn't that long ago that holding transphobic views was the accepted norm, and perhaps it's too much to expect boomers to adjust to new expectations so quickly, but if they want to hang on to their outdated ideas, they could at least do so quietly. Gervais refuses to shut up about his tired politics. Take this brilliant insight into the existence of trans women who haven't opted for—or haven't yet received—gender confirmation surgery:

Gervais c*ck tweet Hilarious...

And all the other times he's made basically the same joke (clearly I was wrong about him having only one joke that he keeps repeating—he has two). Ricky Gervais has made some great television and become a pioneer in early podcasting when he figured out that he could be mean to his friend for an audience. It's unsettling that someone who has contributed so much to culture, who is pretty clever in a lot of what he does, and who seems to have empathy in some matters could think such lame observations count as comedy.

He seems to revel in the suggestion that trans identities are perverse and that trans women who still have the genitals they were born with are fundamentally predatory. Maybe he thinks of his own p-nis as fundamentally predatory? Maybe he thinks that conflating homosexuality and pedophilia is still cool too. He's definitely not as comfortable with homosexuality as he likes to pretend.

Gervais in "Derek" He's also really cool and thoughtful when portraying a character with a developmental disability...NME

So why? Why is anyone involved agreeing to this? I suppose Ricky wants people to pay attention to his Netflix show After Life, and thinks his edgy, recalcitrant ignorance will really shake things up by reasserting a lot of old and tired ideas. And maybe the Hollywood Foreign Press thinks that this will get them the kind of loud, negative attention that they didn't get until after they announced Green Book as the winner last year. After all, there's no such thing as bad press…except the Hollywood Foreign Press. They suck.

Best case scenario: Gervais is right, and this last hosting gig will end his career. Still, it just seems like there must be a better solution. Hmm…

gervais host tweet