Friday, June 14, 2024

Two of Paul Newman’s Daughters Sue Family Foundation Over Getting Pushed Aside by Board: “The whole family is demoralized”


Two of Paul Newman’s daughters have sued the Newman’s Own Foundation over their feeling that they’ve been increasingly pushed out and minimized by the board of directors.

The suit has been filed by Susan and Nell Newman. Their three other sisters are taking a back seat at the moment, according to sources.

News of the suit was first reported in the Wall Street Journal. But back in 2015, I covered the simmering issues between the family and the foundation. So did Mark Seal in Graydon Carter’s Vanity Fair. My 2015 story is below.

The amount of the suit is $1.6 million– the sum of $400,000 times four. Each sister has always had that amount to give to charities of their choice. (One sister, Stephanie, does not participate.) But now the board has cut their budgets to $200,000 apiece, they say, and they fear this will not be the end.

Important to know: The Newman children do not receive any personal money from the Foundation, no salaries, and no benefits. (I’d told the five children don’t receive an inheritance until Joanne Woodward passes away.) Their whole connection to Newman’s Own has been for them to be able to donate money at their discretion to charitable organizations.

But over time, the sisters say in their complaint, the board of Newman’s Own has tried to edge them out — despite their father’s intention that the family always be part of the hugely successful foundation that makes its money from marketing salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and popcorn.

When I wrote my story in 2015, the person running the foundation and already causing trouble for the Newmans was Robert Forrester. You can read about him below. I assumed  at some point, because the Newmans retreated, they had resolved their differences. Forrester was removed from power. Miriam Nelson is the new chairman of the board. But I’m told “the whole family is demoralized by the way they’ve been treated.” Why didn’t they speak up over the last seven years? Says a source: “They were told to keep quiet, everything would work out.”

“Paul Newman had tremendous interests in the arts and things like climate change,” says an insider. “The board under Nelson has changed the focus to funding food insufficiency. Nelson’s background is she’s a nutritionist.” The meager $1.6 million divided among four of the daughters (one of them doesn’t participate) was designed to fund those charities. Cutting it to $800,000 is alarming, frankly.

Why the Newman’s Own board isn’t embracing Newman’s daughters and how they let things reach this point is the question. The foundation, which has meant so much to so many around the world, doesn’t need this kind of bad publicity. And after all, it’s called Newman’s Own. Newman’s own children should be front and center.

There is certainly more to come.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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