BY LUIS PEREZ
Newsday Staff Writer
December 16, 2006
Two days ago, the celebrity mom and the paparazzo wouldn’t look at each other.
Carol Baldwin and James Edstrom, once close friends, were locked in a six-figure dispute over a promised photograph of her four famous sons.
It took a decade for their fight to come to trial, and all along there was mutual belittling, name-calling, and from Edstrom, the threat of a tell-all book.
Friday, after a mere two days of court questioning in Riverhead – in which the frail matriarch of the Baldwin brothers was spared a public grilling on the stand – it ended in a closed-door resolution.
Just after noon in the courthouse hallway, the two gazed into each other’s eyes, as if it were 1996.
“Everything’s fine,” said Edstrom, of Manhattan, when asked of the outcome. “We kissed and made up and we love each other again.”
“We’re friends again,” said Carol Baldwin, who was celebrating her 77th birthday.
Neither Baldwin, Edstrom nor their attorneys would comment on what brought them together and what separated them in the first place.
Both sides told a six-member jury that in 1996, Edstrom vowed to help Baldwin raise the profile and the financial stature of her fledgling charity, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. In the beginning he was a volunteer, both sides agreed.
But after spending considerable time helping her organize a 1997 fundraising gala at the Marriott Hotel in Melville, both sides agreed, there was talk in and out of charity board meetings of Edstrom, who is also a publicist, snapping a then one-of-a-kind photograph of Baldwin’s sons – Alec, Daniel, Stephen and William. Edstrom wanted to sell the picture for personal profit.
Edstrom and his attorney, John McHugh of Manhattan, described a legally binding “agreement” that would have served as payment to Edstrom.
But Baldwin, a breast cancer survivor herself, said through her lawyer, Neil H. Greenberg of Westbury, that she had no control over what her sons would or would not do. Greenberg vehemently objected to one witness’ testimony that the mother once said, “My boys would do anything for me.”
It all came crashing down after that 1997 gala, several witnesses testified, where Alec Baldwin used an expletive and walked out of the room at the time Edstrom was scheduled to take the photograph.
Edstrom – who once told a newspaper he wanted to pen a tell-all book titled, “I Want To Be a Baldwin” – was suing for $100,000, the sum of which he valued the would-be photo.
As he walked out of the courthouse Friday, Edstrom and his attorney refused to answer a reporter’s questions about a settlement – routine when civil suits are dismissed at trial.
In the parking lot several jurors said they were thrilled that the battle was over, just in time for Christmas shopping.