Angelina Jolie

BAUER-GRIFFIN.COM

Brangelina's looking to squash a bodyguard's tell-all, but with Hollywood confidentiality contracts, what makes former employees think they can get away with spilling dirt?
—SSR

Greed? Naïveté? Something in between? Naïvetreed? For a split second, elbow-throwin' bodyguard Mickey Brett apparently was poised to write a tell-all on Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and other Hollywood royalty.

Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere—great day in the mornin'! Would no star be spared?

When Brangelina attorney-slash-pit bull Marty Singer padded into the fray, he claimed that Brett had signed a nondisclosure agreement, and we haven't heard word one from Brett since. NDAs are powerful magic, but they do have weaknesses...

And I've found out what they are.

According to employment attorney Nancy Bertrando of the power firm Greenberg Glusker, many NDAs spell out specific penalties that violators must pay—say, $10,000 or $50,000.

"But the information that the employee has could be of much greater value," Bertrando points out. A six-figure advance on a book deal sure would wipe out five figures in penalties, no? That's why Bertrando's NDAs usually outline penalties on a sliding scale. It's not clear what type of penalties appeared in Brett's NDA, if there indeed was one.

Another possible scenario: misinformed lawyers.

"An attorney may tell an employee that an NDA is unenforceable," Bertrando speculates. The employee later learns otherwise, but not before he or she has floated the book idea to a few publishers, and the whole mess has been leaked to the press.

"Maybe they think they can make a bunch of cash, and worry about the NDA detail later," says investigative journalist Mark Ebner, author of Six Degrees of Paris Hilton. "But then they learn it's a legal nightmare."

Many, many celebrity employees of course do leak info to the press, even under NDA, albeit the information is usually published under anonymity.

Simply put, employees "feel its important to talk," Ebner tells me. "I've spoken to people under NDAs; it's their business to decide whether to break the NDA."
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