BREAKING NEWS

Russell Crowe's Moe Better Blues

Jan. 30 2008, Published 8:04 a.m. ET

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Despite reports in the British tabs that Russell Crowe hasreached a staggering $10.8 million settlement with his alleged assault victim,Nestor Estrada, the Aussie actor isn’t off the hook just yet.

A spokesperson for Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau stronglydismissed the settlement rumors, saying that Crowe is still due in court onSeptember 14 to answer the charges. “No settlement has been reached,”the spokesperson said. “We’re the prosecutors, so we would have tobe informed.” Aviva Franz, the assistant/wife ofEstrada’s lawyer, Eric Franz, said, “I was laughingwhen I heard about the settlement. We’re just as confused about this asyou are.”

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And it’s a good thing Crowe hasn’t shelled out the big bucks yet,as Radar may see a way out for the actor: He could always argue thatthe June 5 altercation was simply preparation for the role of Moe in theFarrelly brothers long-planned Three Stooges movie.

“If you put the right sound effect in, Crowe’s phone attack isfunny,” Bobby Farrelly joked at a recent press event.“It’s just that he didn’t have the right soundeffect—just a little thud, like ‘Ooh!’”

Crowe flirted with playing Moe back in March 2004, telling the Farrellys he“laughed his ass off” at their script, but didn’t like theending.

The project has since suffered numerous setbacks, but Crowe remains one ofthe gross-out auteurs’ top choices to play the bowl-cutted brawler. Infact, you’d think they wrote the script with him in mind; an early drafteven finds Moe, estranged from Larry and Curly, stunned to find himself arrestedon assault charges after lavishing his eye-poking brand of “toughlove” on a total stranger.

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Crowe’s publicist, Robin Baum, did not return calls ore-mails asking whether Crowe might consider mounting aThree-Stooges-meets-Stansislawski defense—which the talentedactor could undoubtedly pull off more convincingly than WinonaRyder, who tried a similar Method-Acting tact during her 2001shoplifting trial. A rep for the Farrelly brothers declined to comment aboutCrowe’s involvement in the film or speculate about his legal woes, andCrowe’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, could not be reached forcomment by press time.

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