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Oksana Baiul slaps NBC with defamation suit

A celebrity gossip junky, Caroline Goddard has been writing entertainment news for longer than the world has known Kim Kardashian's name. Follow her on Twitter at @GoddardCaroline.

NBC on thin ice

Oksana Baiul is suing NBC after the network's promotion of an event using her name without her permission left her cold.

NBC on thin ice

Champion figure skater Oksana Baiul is hitting NBC where it counts: the wallet. The Olympic gold medalist wants $5 million from the network after they allegedly used her name and likeness to promote her appearance on two TV specials in which she never agreed to appear.

In her suit, Baiul says the network and production company Disson Skating promoted her participation in two different shows without her agreement, ruining her reputation with fans who then considered her a "no show" for not appearing.

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"[That] damages her goodwill with her loyal fans that purchased tickets (often months in advance) expecting to see her perform," charges the suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.

While NBC and Baiul's lawyers declined to comment, Stephen Disson was glad to chat about the backstory with the New York Daily News, saying he never publicly disclosed his negotiations with the skater.

"It's just weird," he said, explaining that he received a call from Baiul's agent in July 2011 asking to book her in a show, and that Baiul called him herself to express her gratitude because she was less than a dream to work with in previous shows.

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"Each time she had been a little flaky. One time, she didn't show up. She was out shopping. Another time, she refused to do a retake after she had fallen," he said.

"She was grateful for a third chance. We had a good talk. I said I'd send a contract."

But three weeks later he says Baiul's agent emailed him saying she was no longer interested, and when Disson tried to contact the skater directly she told him to "stop calling."

This isn't the Olympic champ's only pending lawsuit. In November she accused William Morris of not properly accounting for her earnings, asking for over $1 million in damages.

Image courtesy Ivan Nikolov/
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