This week, Fox’s Tubi streaming service will premiere Hot Take: The Depp/Heard Trial, a reenactment of last summer’s heavily-watched Johnny Depp–Amber Heard spectacle. Even by B-movie standards, this is a pretty rushed and exploitative feat—especially because the story isn’t over. For real insight into what went wrong for Heard, skip this sure-to-be-awful TV adaptation and wait for the next trial. Yes, less than four months after the conclusion of the Depp-Heard showdown, we’re headed for yet another round of litigation—one that promises to reveal even more of the jockeying and power plays inside Heard’s camp.
As a refresher, Depp sued Heard in 2019, two years after their marriage ended, over a Washington Post op-ed in which she identified herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” It took three years for this case to get to trial, and in that time, Heard switched her legal team multiple times. At first, the defense was led by Eric George, a well-connected Los Angeles-based litigator who is quite adept at handling celebrity complications (a Mel Gibson custody fight, a secret Kim Kardashian engagement, etc.), but ended up being not quite a perfect match. Then came Roberta Kaplan, who had successfully fought for same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court and co-founded the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund (and more recently ran into criticism for helping then-governor Andrew Cuomo attempt to discredit an accuser). Her involvement suggested Heard’s legal defense might become a pro-feminist cause, but after a few procedural pre-trial losses, she was out too. Finally, her defense rested with Elaine Bredehoft, who has a decent reputation locally but—let’s be honest—came to the big trial with a questionable strategy (i.e. contesting the he-said, she-said particulars of who was nastiest during the marriage instead of focusing the jurors on what was actually written by Heard), and seemed overwhelmed by basic tasks like leading direct examination without getting interrupted every three seconds by Depp attorney Camille Vasquez.
Of course, there was more to the story behind all those pre-trial shakeups, which may soon become public thanks to a secondary legal drama between two insurance companies that have been secretly fighting over Heard’s sizable legal bill. After all, many forms of homeowner’s insurance will cover certain legal expenses—but only up to a certain point. And Heard’s expenses were truly astronomical, surpassing $8 million before the six-week trial even began. Heard has since brought on two more top lawyers (David L. Axelrod and Jay Ward Brown of Ballard Spahr) to handle her appeal. This could easily become a $15 million bill of horrors when all is said and done, potentially dwarfing the $10 million or so that Heard has already been ordered to fork over to Depp.