EXCLUSIVE: Broadway Playwright Matthew Lombardo Talks Valerie Harper Lawsuit
By Antoinette Bueno
Broadway playwright Matthew Lombardo, who's suing actress Valerie Harper in a $2 million lawsuit charging that she didn't tell him she had cancer until after she signed on to star in his play Looped and was then forced to drop out, is now giving ET an exclusive statement that despite the current circumstances, he very much "adores" Valerie.
"I have no animosity against Valerie. I adore her. I wish her the best always," he tells ET. "Unfortunately her husband decided to create this lawsuit as he did 20 years ago with her TV show Valerie and it's stirring up a lot of trouble. I am deeply devastated that Valerie would choose to be a part of this and spend her remaining time immersed in this negativity."
According to the Daily News, Lombardo charges that Harper, 74, and her husband, Tony Cacciotti, hid her lung cancer diagnosis until it spread to her brain, forcing her to drop out of last year's national tour of Looped. Harper and her husband "knowingly withheld the truth about her cancer," the suit charges.
Lombardo filed the lawsuit in response to one filed by Harper, in which she claims that he failed to pay the remainder of her contract despite her illness.
"In the midst of Ms. Harper’s highly successful book tour and her public appearances on talk shows and Dancing With The Stars, her husband, Tony Cacciotti, decided to target Mr. Lombardo even though it was Cacciotti who had financially abandoned the national tour of Looped at the 11th hour, leaving Mr. Lombardo and another investor holding the bag and deeply in debt," Lombardo's lawyer tells ET. "It never would have occurred to Mr. Lombardo to sue Valerie Harper and he did not. He was, at the time, resigned to simply accept his financial losses and to celebrate Ms. Harper's renewed health along with her many fans. Sadly, a lawsuit was filed against him seeking compensation even though Ms. Harper never actually performed in Looped on tour and even though her husband stopped paying all tour-related bills upon which the producers and actors had been relying."
Harper was diagnosed a year ago with terminal brain cancer and was given just three months to live. Since then she has clearly managed to beat the odds, and although she is not completely cancer-free, earlier this month she commented that that she's "cautiously optimistic” about her present condition and that she has "hope for the future."