Police have charged Emile Hirsch with felony aggravated assault for choking Paramount executive Dani Bernfeld during a fight at the Sundance Film Festival last month. If convicted, the actor could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, law enforcement officials in Utah’s Summit County tell Deadline. The scuffle happened around 3:30 AM on January 25 during a Sundance party at the nightclub Tao. Police were called after Bernfeld, who is VP of Paramount Digital Entertainment and Insurge Pictures, reported the incident to security. Hirsch, who has starred in Lone Survivor, Into The Wild and the miniseries Bonnie & Clyde, was in Park City for the premiere of the drama Ten Thousand Saints.
Emile Hirsch Checked Into Rehab Following Sundance Assault
Actor Emile Hirsch checked into a rehab facility in the wake of an incident in which he allegedly choked a female executive at last month’s Sundance Film Festival.
“Emile consumed an enormous amount of alcohol on the evening in question and he has no memory of what happened,” Hirsch’s lawyer, Robert Offer, said in statement released Friday.
“Emile takes these allegations very seriously, and is devastated that any of this has occurred,” Offer added. “A few days after the incident, Emile sought help and checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation facility, where he remains today, to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Hirsch was charged Thursday with felony assault in connection with the incident at the Tao nightclub on Jan. 25. Police responded to a 4 a.m. call and a Paramount executive, Daniele Bernfeld, described a physical altercation and accused a drunken Hirsch of putting her “in a chokehold.”
According to court documents, Bernfeld was approached by Hirsch at about 3:15 a.m. Hirsch appeared intoxicated, and asked why she looked “so tough” and said she was a “rich kid” who should not be at Sundance. He then grabbed Bernfeld, but she pushed him away and he left the area with some friends.
Shortly after, Hirsch came up to Bernfeld from behind and wrapped his arm around her to put her in a chokehold, according to the documents. Hirsch then allegedly pulled her across a table and onto the floor, where he landed on top of her and wrapped his hands around her neck.
His court date is currently set for March 16 on a charge of aggravated assault, a third degree felony. If convicted, he faces up to five years in Utah State Prison.
The 29-year-old actor’s credits include “Lone Survivor,” “Speed Racer” and “Into the Wild.”
Emile Hirsch Makes First Court Appearance Over Paramount Exec Sundance Assault
A month and a half after allegedly choking out the VP of Paramount Digital Entertainment and Insurge Pictures at a Sundance party in Park City, the Into The Wild actor was back in town today to appear before a judge on charges of aggravated assault and intoxication. Emile Hirsch faces up to five years behind bars and a $5,000 fine on the third-degree felony charge and 90 days in jail and a $750 fine on the misdemeanor that occurred in the early morning of January 25. He was in Judge Kara Pettit’s courtroom Monday morning for an initial appearance – the first hearing for anyone charged with a felony in Utah and one for which defendants are expected to be in court. Today’s short proceedings also saw the actor having to go to the Summit County jail Monday morning to have his picture taken and be fingerprinted – which wasn’t done in January.
Accompanied by his Salt Lake City attorney Neil Kaplan and two other lawyers, the suit-and-tie-wearing Hirsch waived formal hirsch utah sundance hearing 2reading of the charges against him for the incident with executive Dani Bernfeld at TAO nightclub during the Sundance Film Festival. The next step is an April 13 roll call hearing, which is similar to a status conference on how the case will go forward. Ryan Stack is prosecuting for the Summit County Attorney’s Office.
Hirsch was charged in mid-February for the January incident, which Park City police were called to investigate. The actor, who is in rehab, was at Sundance for the premiere of the drama Ten Thousand Saints, in which he co-stars with Ethan Hawke.
At around 3:15 AM on January 25, a seemingly drunk Hirsch approached Bernfeld at the film party and asked why she looked “so tough” and that she was “a rich kid” who shouldn’t have been at the indie-themed festival, according to charging documents. Bernfeld pushed Hirsch away, but the actor returned sundance-film-festival-2015-featured-image“shortly thereafter” and came up behind the exec and “put her in a chokehold.” He then pulled her over the table she was sitting at and on to the floor where “on top of Bernfeld he wrapped his hands around her neck.” Feeling that “the front and back of her throat were touching,” the exec might have “blacked out” just before people pulled Hirsch off her and the cops were called. At the time, Hirsch told police on the scene that he was in a “verbal confrontation” with Bernfeld, who he said he didn’t actually know. The police said Hirsch was slurring, smelled of booze and his “eyes were red and glossy.” The actor told PCPD that he had three or four drinks before the incident. Later, Hirsch said he had no memory of what happened.
Today’s hearing was the beginning of a process that will see a number of appearances in the case on the court’s calendar in the coming months, few of which Hirsch will attend. Late last month, the actor’s lawyers filed paperwork requesting permission for Hirsch not to have to appear in person. The filing asked for the rehabbing Hirsch to be “excused from attending the following hearings: Any status/pre-trial conference prior to June 8, 2015, with the exception of, and contingent upon, my attendance at the initial appearance scheduled on March 6 at 8:30 AM.” Judge Todd Shaughnessy granted the request. Hirsch could have faced a warrant for his arrest if he hadn’t shown up for the hearings and Shaughnessy hadn’t granted the request.
In movie and other similar matters, Hirsch is repped by UTA and Robert Offer at Beverly Hills law firm Sloane Offer.
UPDATED with more info from court hearing: Almost six months after he allegedly attacked and choked the female VP of Paramount Digital during a Sundance Film Festival party, Emile Hirsch was back in court this morning in Park City to talk a potential plea to ward off years behind bars. Off a stint in rehab that came out of the early-morning incident on January 25, a suit-wearing Hirsch faced Judge Paige Peterson in the latest hearing on charges of aggravated assault and intoxication.
With his Salt Lake City attorney Neil Kaplan and a couple of other lawyers present at Monday’s short status conference, Hirsch’s reps requested a preliminary hearing in the matter. Following procedure, the judge set an August 17 date for what is essentially a mini-trial. Unless a resolution is reached beforehand, Hirsch is expected to be in attendance. The actor’s attorney told the court Monday that they have been talking to the state about a possible plea deal. However, those discussions, I’ve learned, have not reached a final stage and could easily fall apart before the August hearing.
The actor is looking at as many as five years in jail and a $5,000 fine on the third-degree felony charge and a $750 fine and 90 days behind bars on the misdemeanor. Under Utah law, a defendant can seek the preliminary hearing and the state has to present evidence that an offence has taken place and that the plaintiff caused it. Subpoenas are issued and witnesses are called for the hearing, and both sides can question them. Deputy County Attorney Ryan Stack is prosecuting the case for the Summit County Attorney’s Office. The preliminary hearing will likely last a couple of hours, sources say.
Attending Sundance this year for the debut of the pic Ten Thousand Saints, an apparently drunken Hirsch went on a 3:15 AM rant at TAO nightclub against executive Dani Bernfeld. According to charging documents, Hirsch went away, came back, and then came up behind Bernfeld and “put her in a chokehold.” The actor then threw the exec over a table, got on top of her with his hands around her neck and caused Bernfeld to have “blacked out” before witnesses pulled him off. Park City cops called to the scene later said that Hirsch’s “eyes were red and glossy” and he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. At the time, the actor said he was in a “verbal confrontation” with the Paramount VP, whom he also said he barely knew. Claiming to only have had a few drinks that night, Hirsch later said he had no memory of what happened.
The actor was formally charged on February 12 and appeared in court March 16. Soon afterward, Hirsch’s lawyers had the UTA-repped actor excused from appearing at any court hearing, which is required under Utah law. That request expired as of today.