Next week, Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard goes to trial in Fairfax County, Virginia. With expected witnesses including James Franco and Elon Musk, it will draw plenty of media attention on its own and now, Court TV has announced it will be providing the televised feed.
The network will be the official pool feed provider for the lawsuit, promising in a press release to “provide viewers unobstructed and unbiased views of the proceedings.” Of course, Court TV will also air its own analysis of the trial.
“Court cases that are as high-profile as this one often create a lot of noise, and it can be difficult for viewers to break through these distractions to have a clear picture of the facts, but that’s where we come in,” said Acting Head of Court TV Ethan Nelson in a statement. “Between the camera feed directly from the courtroom and our first-class lineup of talent, Court TV will be the true source of an unbiased, down-the-middle perspective of the trial as it unfolds.”
Back in March 2019, Depp sued Heard for libel over her 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she discussed being a “public survivor of abuse.” Although Depp isn’t mentioned by name, his complaint alleges “the op-ed depended on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her.” Heard failed to get the lawsuit dismissed in 2021 and filed a $100 million countersuit of her own.
The whole saga dates back to 2016, when Heard filed for divorce from Depp. After Heard was granted a restraining order over allegations of domestic violence, she accused him of verbal and physical abuse throughout their relationship. However, they went on to settle the divorce in August 2016 before finalizing it in January 2017.
Since then, however, Depp has filed a libel lawsuit against The Sun for calling him a “wife beater.” Ultimately, England’s High Court of Justice rejected Depp’s claims, ruling in November 2020 that most of Heard’s allegations against him were “substantially true.” Separately, audio leaked in February 2020 revealed that Heard had admitted to a number of violent acts against Depp.
Circling back to the present day, both Franco and Musk are expected to testify on Heard’s behalf. During Depp’s libel case against The Sun, Heard testified that Franco asked her about bruises on her face after an alleged incident with Depp. Meanwhile, Depp claims in his defamation suit against Heard that she had an affair with Musk “no later than one month after” their 2015 marriage. Both Musk and Heard have denied the accusation.
There’s little doubt Depp’s career has been hurt by the legal mess. Disney announced plans in 2019 to write him out of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts trilogy has replaced him with Mads Mikkelsen, but his cries of being “boycotted” from Hollywood are a bit strong. His 2020 film Minamata appeared at the Berlin International Film Festival, and he starred in the crime drama City of Lies as an LAPD detective investigating the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G.