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No Love Lost

Kathy Griffin Dishes on Her Feud With ‘Fame Whore’ Lawyer Lisa Bloom—and Bloom Returns Fire

‘I’ve never been through anything like this,’ Kathy Griffin told The Daily Beast of her experience of working with Bloom in the wake of the Trump ‘severed head’ controversy.

‘I Got Bloomed’: Kathy Griffin Dishes On Her Feud With ‘Fame Whore’ Lawyer Lisa Bloom—and Bloom Returns Fire
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Ringo Chiu/Reuters

Self-styled civil rights lawyer, feminist crusader, and television personality Lisa Bloom—who has spent the past two weeks on a media apology tour for her surprising, and surprisingly aggressive, representation of disgraced Hollywood mogul and alleged sexual assaulter Harvey Weinstein—has already damaged her brand as a champion of women who’ve suffered workplace harassment, discrimination, and worse.

Now Bloom, the daughter of high-profile feminist attorney Gloria Allred, has an influential new critic to cope with: famed comedian and former client Kathy Griffin.

Griffin hired Bloom last June to help her navigate the career-wounding Donald Trump/severed head controversy, and she detailed her brief, unhappy experience with the Los Angeles attorney on Sunday in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast.

It’s a narrative, as Griffin tells it, of Bloom’s astronomical legal fees and alleged “fame-whoring,” and of Bloom and Braden Pollock, her husband and law firm manager, “badgering” the comedian to drop her objections to accompanying Bloom on a national media tour.

After a widely ridiculed June 2 news conference at Bloom’s Woodland Hills, California, law offices, that media tour would have most notably included a joint appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America the following Monday. That interview didn’t happen after Griffin vetoed it.

“I’m not acting like some innocent—I’ve been around. But I’ve never been through anything like this. I’m still living it,” Griffin told The Daily Beast, recalling an acrimonious conference call several hours after the disastrous morning media event.

“Everybody was shouting,” she continued, adding that aside from Bloom and Pollock, Griffin’s entertainment attorney Bill Sobel and her longtime First Amendment lawyer, Alan Isaacman, were also on the call, and, like Griffin, vehemently opposed Bloom’s media strategy recommendations, which she said called for Bloom to join Griffin in a series of press and television interviews. 

“Lisa said, ‘Kathy, I don’t like it that you’re the only other woman on this call and you’re not speaking up for me,’” Griffin recounted. “And I’m like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me? After everything I’ve been through, you’re gonna try to play the fucking feminist card with me?… Are you fucking nuts? It doesn’t work that way. I don’t have your back on this one at all.’”

Griffin said the media-friendly lawyer has been repeatedly dialing her and her manager/boyfriend Randy Bick’s cellphones in recent days, but neither has taken her calls.

Griffin spoke to The Daily Beast from Australia a couple of hours after she tweeted, “Dear @LisaBloom, pls stop calling me. If you’d like to refund me the tens of thousands of $$ I wasted on your services maybe I’ll talk to you.”

Bloom, in an email, said she was taking the unusual step of answering Griffin’s narrative because her former client, by granting an on-the-record interview, had waived attorney-client confidentiality.

Bloom disputed the testimony of both Bick and Griffin that she has been bombarding them with calls. “Really? Bombarding? Please show call logs then. I sent one text to Kathy in the last three months, and placed one call to Randy recently.”

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Bloom also claimed: “The last time I spoke to Kathy, at a group dinner recently, she gave me a big hug, was very friendly and said everything was great between us. I had no idea there was a problem until a reporter reached out to me about this a few days ago.”

But clearly everything was not great. Explaining why she didn’t confront Bloom directly, Griffin recalled a conversation she’d had with occasional Trump target Martha Stewart. “I asked her, what would you do if you ran into Trump. And Martha Stewart answered, ‘I’d say ‘hello.’”

Bloom’s impression of friendly relations is also belied by a Facebook video Griffin posted a few day ago, in which she declared: “I’m gonna have to blow the lid off fake feminism today.”

In the late-night video, which Griffin made in her pajamas in her Sydney, Australia, hotel room in the midst of a two-month international comedy tour, the comedian continued: “There’s right and wrong, and I think it’s time to expose some stuff. I hired her [Bloom] for a couple of days during my Trump mask scandal. It didn’t go well.

“If you want my Lisa Bloom statement, anybody, OK, here it is. Yes, I got Bloomed. Yes, I did not have a good experience with her. I felt that she and her husband exacerbated my personal situation. That horrible press conference was a disaster.”

Griffin added: “I’m not gonna sue Lisa Bloom. I don’t think Lisa Bloom should be shot, like people want to shoot me. So there’s my fucking statement.”

Bloom responded to Griffin’s video Sunday in a lengthy email to The Daily Beast (published in full at the end of this story), in which she argued that the June press conference went off the rails because Griffin “spontaneously chose to put aside the notes we had worked so hard on together.”

Bloom continued: “She said on camera ‘my notes are by the wayside and it’s all off the cuff’; and then ad libbed. I was sorry she made that choice but I respected her right to speak as she saw fit. She was, as she says, then widely panned for her comments. Now she blames me. She’s the only client I’ve ever had who chose to extemporize at a press conference rather than read from notes we prepared in advance.”

Bloom added: “I got a lot of death and rape threats afterward and still do. I know Kathy has as well and I’m sure it’s unnerving.

“Kathy has now made a video about how women should stand together, and yet she’s attacked me, a lifetime women’s rights attorney, and not the rest of her team, all of whom were men. This is sad, but I still believe that Kathy Griffin is one of the funniest comics alive, that she meant no ill will with the [Trump] photo, and I wish her the best.”

Griffin said she had known Bloom slightly, and invited her, along with Joy-Ann Reid and others, to her Los Angeles home for brunch after they appeared together last April on MSNBC’s AM Joy program.

Five weeks after the brunch, Griffin hired Bloom, who had texted the comedian to offer moral support as the “Trump mask scandal” was turning into a national uproar stoked by Fox News and tweeted attacks on Griffin by President Trump, members of his family, and thousands of apparent Trump supporters (some of whom issued death threats).

Griffin said Bloom brought L.A. criminal defense attorney Dmitry Gorin to a strategy session at Griffin’s home, and she didn’t learn until after the fact that Bloom had hired Gorin without consulting her and he was not a member of the Bloom Firm and thus would bill her separately.

Griffin estimated that the fees for two days’ legal representation, including arranging security and invitations to legitimate journalists for the June 2 press conference at Bloom’s offices, amounted to $40,000.

(Bloom’s version of events is dramatically at odds with Griffin’s. “I have texts giving her Gorin’s name before we arrived,” she emailed. “And her entertainment attorney was present at the first meeting where everyone handed out business cards indicating their law firms, and where fees were discussed and approved.”)

At the press conference, staged in the jam-packed, cheek-by-jowl Bloom firm conference room crowded with cameras and local and national reporters, Bloom began with a lengthy oration affirming Griffin’s First Amendment rights, and attacking Trump’s behavior and political and policy stances.

At length, she gave Griffin the floor.

“Now every picture that comes up is me crying at that fucking press conference,” said Griffin, who was overcome with emotion and stifled sobs when reporters asked her how she was affected by the president’s, his son Donald Jr.’s and Melania Trump’s repeated attacks via social media.

“He broke me,” Griffin tearfully answered, noting that several comedy venues in the United States had already canceled her concert dates; she predicted that her career was over. 

When Kevin Frazier of Entertainment Tonight asked her whether she had spoken to Anderson Cooper, her longtime friend, co-host, and comic foil on CNN’s New Year’s Eve show, she shook her head, cried, and managed to blurt how deeply he had hurt her by tweeting: “For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.” (In her interview with The Daily Beast, Griffin laughingly quoted a quip “from my gays,” as she put it, slamming the gay Cooper, a scion of the storied Vanderbilt family, as “The Spineless Heiress.”)

“That press conference exacerbated my situation greatly,” Griffin said. “I didn’t know I was going to her office, and that I would be under a fucking banner that said ‘Lisabloom.com,’ and that she would hand me a coffee cup that said ‘Lisabloom.com.’ It was one of the worst days of my life.”

At one point during the news conference, a writer from the right-wing conspiracy blog Gateway Pundit moved toward Griffin to accuse her of joking about the president’s 11-year-old son, Barron Trump, in her comedy act (she acknowledged that she had, adding that her routine isn’t child-appropriate).

As the press conference ended, the man took over the lectern and microphone to display a crudely doctored photo of Griffin holding up the severed head of Lisa Bloom, and noted sarcastically that he hoped nobody would get “bullied” as a result.

“When that guy was approaching me, I was thinking that my own security guy wasn’t allowed in the room,” Griffin recalled. “Neither was my boyfriend. Neither was Alan [Isaacman]… I didn’t know who that guy was, and I didn’t know if he might try to do harm for real. Holy shit.”

Once again, Bloom’s memory is wildly different: “Security was there and press credentials were checked,” she emailed. “One right wing reporter who had press credentials did get through and did a stunt holding a photo to the cameras. I put my hand up to him, put myself between him and Kathy (as you can see in the video) and got her right out. The video does not show any physical threat and if it had been security would have removed him.”

Immediately after the press conference, Griffin, Bick, Isaacman, and Sobel gathered in a smaller room for a grim post-mortem. The consensus: “Yeah, that was rough,” Griffin said.

“Lisa’s husband was physically holding the door closed, so we were in there, and Lisa was outside doing interviews in the hallway fame-whoring which we didn’t know at the time. We knew that the press conference was a disaster the minute it was over,” Griffin recalled.

“We said, ‘Where’s Lisa, she’s supposed to be in here?’ and her husband was holding the door, and I was probably crying, and I remember Bill, my boyfriend, and Alan walked over to her husband and they were like ‘what the fuck is going on?’ Nobody in my posse is violent or anything, but they said, take your hand off the door.”

Bloom: “This is false and ridiculous.”

As soon as the door opened, Kevin Frazier of Entertainment Tonight appeared, recording the scene with his cellphone, Griffin said. “He’s a very nice guy, who was only doing his job.” Bloom’s husband said, “You promised Kevin an interview, right?” 

Griffin shook her head no, “and I’m looking at Kevin and I’m a wreck,” she recalled. “But now it made the situation worse when Lisa came back [from her hallway interviews] and was really pressuring me to go on GMA on the following Monday, which I knew was a horrible idea… I had thought I was going to say my peace and clear up this mess… But Lisa and her husband would not stop blowing up my phone and my boyfriend’s phone. And it was not only GMA, but this was just the beginning of a press tour.”

During the conference call hours later, Griffin said, Bloom “became obviously extremely volatile. She’s too fucking hotheaded to be an attorney. That’s the last thing you want in an attorney, and she and her husband were really badgering me” about flying to New York and going on GMA with Bloom.

Griffin recalled that Bloom told her the GMA invitation required the lawyer to appear on camera with her, but sources at ABC said that while GMA—just like multiple programs, including CBS’ 60 Minutes and NBC’s Meet the Press, Griffin said—tried to book the comedian, GMA would have been happy for her to come alone.

At the time, the Secret Service had just opened an investigation into whether Griffin’s ill-advised Trump photo had constituted a threat on the president.

“And I’m like, ‘Lisa, do you think I want to go to an airport?’ I can’t tell you how hot that situation was for me that day,” Griffin recalled. “‘I’m not going anywhere near a fucking airport.’ What if I’m on some no-fly list? It’s stupid to go to LAX and [be faced with airport security officers telling her] ‘You’re on the no-fly list—come into the terrorism interrogation room.’”

Bloom predictably took issue with Griffin’s characterization of alleged “badgering” after the press conference and her “volatile” behavior on the conference call later that day.

“I do not insist on anything with any client,” Bloom emailed. “I offer options and make recommendations. I am not a shouter. I don’t recall anyone shouting.”

As for berating Griffin for not supporting another woman, Bloom claimed: “I never berated her. This is false.”

Griffin, for her part, said she and her lawyers attempted to placate Bloom. “We were kind of saying, ‘Lisa, it’s over, it didn’t go well, we gave it a shot, and come on, no harm, no foul, and frankly, it’s a win for you,’” Griffin recalled. “But when you’re a comic and you bombed, you know you bombed. You didn’t get laughs, and you bombed.”

The full text of Lisa Bloom’s response to Kathy Griffin’s criticism, sent to The Daily Beast:

Kathy Griffin reached out to me after her Trump mask photo posted a few months ago and a few days later I had a press conference with her.

Her entire team (entertainment lawyer, criminal lawyer, and several others) approved in advance the statements she and I were going to make. Yet Kathy then during the press conference spontaneously chose to put aside the notes we had worked so hard on together.

She said on camera “my notes are by the wayside and it’s all off the cuff” and then ad libbed. I was sorry she made that choice but I respected her right to speak as she saw fit.

She was, as she says, then widely panned for her comments. Now she blames me. She’s the only client I’ve ever had who chose to extemporize at a press conference rather than read from notes we prepared in advance.

I got a lot of death and rape threats afterward and still do. I know Kathy has as well and I’m sure it’s unnerving.

Kathy has now made a video about how women should stand together, and yet she’s attacked me, a lifetime women’s rights attorney, and not the rest of her team, all of whom were men.

This is sad, but I still believe that Kathy Griffin is one of the funniest comics alive, that she meant no ill will with the photo, and I wish her the best.