Stargazing

Woody Allen takes on American Apparel

A clothing company known for its racy ads is fighting a $10 million lawsuit brought by

Woody Allen

, arguing that it can’t have damaged his reputation by using his image because the film director has already ruined it himself.

The 73-year-old Allen started the fight against American Apparel Inc. when he sued the company last year for using his image on the company’s billboards in Hollywood and New York and on a Web site.

Allen, who does not endorse products in the United States, said he had not authorized the displays, which the Los Angeles-based company said were up for only a week.

Now the company plans to make Allen’s relationships to actress

Mia Farrow

and her adopted daughter

Soon-Yi Previn

the focus of a trial scheduled to begin in federal court in Manhattan on May 18, according to the company’s lawyer,

Stuart Slotnick

.

“Woody Allen expects $10 million for use of his image on billboards that were up and down in less than one week. I think Woody Allen overestimates the value of his image,” Slotnick said.

“Certainly, our belief is that after the various sex scandals that Woody Allen has been associated with, corporate America’s desire to have Woody Allen endorse their product is not what he may believe it is.”

One billboard featured a frame from “Annie Hall,” a film that won Allen a best-director Oscar. The image showed Allen dressed as a Hasidic Jew with a long beard and black hat and Yiddish text. The words “American Apparel” also were on the billboard.

Allen’s lawsuit said the billboard falsely implied that Allen sponsored, endorsed or was associated with American Apparel.

Slotnick said it was not a cheap shot to bring up Allen’s sex life in a lawsuit over the billboard and Internet ads.

“It’s certainly relevant in assessing the value of an endorsement,” he said, noting that Olympic swimmer

Michael Phelps

lost endorsement power after a photograph surfaced of him using marijuana.

Farrow starred in several of Allen’s movies during a relationship with the director that ended in 1992, when she discovered he was having an affair with her oldest adopted daughter, then 22. Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in 1997.

During a bitter custody fight, Farrow accused Allen of sexually abusing their adopted daughter Dylan, 7. Allen was exonerated of the abuse charges, but Farrow won sole custody of the children.

Leslee Dart

, a spokeswoman for Allen, said Friday that she does not believe Allen wants to comment on the litigation at this point.

Allen testified at a December deposition that he considered the company’s advertising to be “sleazy” and “infantile.”

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