LOS ANGELES – Sexy Friends star Jennifer Aniston plans to testify in Los Angeles federal court this week, where she hopes a federal judge will punish the magazine publishers who ran a topless picture of her.
Her lawsuit, set for a non-jury trial starting tomorrow before U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew, will hinge on whether Aniston can show that magazine publishers improperly profited off the shot taken while she sunbathed topless in the back yard of her Hollywood hills home.
The 33-year-old is taking on New York-based Man's World Publications Inc. and Crescent Publishing Group (publishers of Celebrity Skin and High Society magazines), claiming that a paparazzi trespassed into a neighbor's yard and climbed an eight-foot wall to take the picture in February 1999.
The picture has since appeared in skin mags published by the defendants, and other European publications.
Aniston said the magazine publishers violated her privacy and profited from her likeness without consent. She's suing for an undisclosed sum.
The Friends star could not be reached for comment, and her lawyer, Jay Lavely, did not return several phone calls seeking his comments. Lavely has previously said Aniston will testify.
Calling Aniston a "public figure," a defense lawyer said the topless picture first ran overseas — so his clients cannot be blamed for re-running them in the United States.
"Man's World and Crescent had nothing to do with the taking of that photograph," defense lawyer Kent Raygor said.
Lavely and Raygor have tangled before under similar circumstances.
Five years ago, Lavely successfully petitioned an L.A. County Superior Court judge to order Playgirl magazine - then represented by Raygor — to recall an edition that featured Aniston's husband, Brad Pitt.
The battle was over a nude shot of Pitt, taken two years earlier in the Caribbean. It showed Pitt cavorting outside a hotel bungalow with then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow.
The August 1997 Playgirl editions sold out before the order could take effect.