Howard Stern and Larry Birkhead plan to sue the author of a new book that claims the two men shared a sexual encounter before Anna Nicole Smith’s death and worked together afterwards to manipulate the media and maximise profits.
'Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith’s Death', by journalist Rita Cosby, hit US stores yesterday.
The death of the former Playboy Playmate and tabloid fixture in February led to a custody fight over her baby girl.
Birkhead, the father of Smith’s infant daughter, said that though he had yet to see the book, he intended to sue Cosby, her sources and Grand Central Publishing.
“This is going to be one of the most expensive lawsuit settlements in book publishing history,” Birkhead said.
Stern, Smith’s lawyer and some-time boyfriend, also planned to “file and aggressively pursue a libel case” against Cosby and her publishers, his lawyer, Lin Wood, said.
“The more information I have received over the last several days about Ms Cosby’s book, the more convinced I am that she has, as a practical matter, authored a work of pure fiction,” Wood said in a statement.
Birkhead admitted meeting Cosby several times after Smith’s death, but he flatly denied that he and Stern shared a sexual tryst.
“It’s totally false and defamatory,” Birkhead said. “This book is fuelled by internet gossip and tabloid reports. She never once tried to contact me or Howard to see if any of these things were true.”
Cosby claims there is a videotape of the alleged encounter and that one of Smith’s former employees had seen the Playboy Playmate watching it. But Birkhead said no tape could exist because the encounter did not occur.
Cosby quotes Birkhead on some topics in the book, she said, but not on the sexual rumours.
“We also knew what Birkhead would say because we’ve seen him inconsistent on many other things,” she said, adding that the book cited numerous sources and was “carefully vetted through attorneys at our publishing house”.
“I have nothing to hide,” she said. “I make no apologies for the book, and at the end of the day, the American public will see that these two men conspired to fool us all.”
Birkhead denied the book’s claim that he and Stern made a “secret deal” about finances and the custody of Smith’s daughter Dannielynn.
“There’s been no deal cut. There’s nobody even positioned to make deals,” Birkhead said, noting that he was still involved in a custody dispute with Smith’s mother, Virgie Arthur.
Birkhead said the sources Cosby cited “all have pending litigation against me so they all have axes to grind”.
He also accused the author of opportunistic timing.
“Rita Cosby uses this week, the week that my daughter turns one and the anniversary of (Smith’s son) Daniel’s death, to try to sell a book or two,” he said.
Cosby said Dannielynn inspired her to write the book.
“The real issue here and the reason I did this book was that little baby,” she said.
“The question is: What’s ahead for her future if these two men appear to be in collusion? ... I hope that my book will expose some of the inconsistencies that have been out there and maybe have these cases given a second look.”