05/09/2007 at 03:00 PM EDT
The producer of Lindsay Lohan's new movie, Georgia Rule,
famously scolded her in a letter
for missing work last summer – but the film's director says he was the one who requested the reprimand.
"Once somebody walks on my set, it's my problem, but we can't go chasing them," Garry Marshall said Tuesday at the movie's New York City premiere. "This film is low-budget. We can't lose days. ... Tough love is a part of this business – she missed a day on the second week of shooting."
So at Marshall's request, Morgan Creek Productions chief James G. Robinson sent Lohan a stern letter calling her absences from the set "irresponsible and unprofessional" and blaming her "all-night heavy partying" for her "so-called 'exhaustion.' " The letter quickly made headlines when it was posted on The Smoking Gun's Web site.
But it did the trick: "Jim wrote the memo, and she came the next day and we were fine," Marshall said. Asked about a recent video that allegedly shows Lohan, 20, using cocaine
, Marshall said, "Any publicity is good publicity, but in this case, I think it distorts what a good actress Lindsay is."
Robinson himself also came to Lohan's defense at Tuesday's premiere. "I wrote that letter six times," he said. "I started out being pissed off. There was anger in some drafts, but I think I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. And from that day on, she didn't miss any time. She came to work on time, knew her lines and, boy, she's a fantastic actor. She's probably one of the most talented."
Asked about the alleged video footage, Robinson expressed sympathy for Lohan. "She's 20 years old, one of the most famous women in the world. That's a lot for someone. ... She's a good person. She's a nice person. She is not a little bitch. She's a nice, decent person. She just likes to stay out too late at night."