Producer Claims Ryan O'Neal Threatened Him Over Farrah Fawcett's Cancer Documentary

05/14/2009 at 04:50 PM EDT

Producer Claims Ryan O'Neal Threatened Him Over Farrah Fawcett's Cancer Documentary
Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett
Jim Smeal/WireImage
A producer of the Farrah Fawcett documentary to air on NBC Friday has filed suit against Ryan O'Neal, claiming the actor "physically threatened" him to gain control of the footage chronicling Fawcett’s fight against cancer.

Craig Nevius – who is described in his suit as a "friend and confidant" of Fawcett's and is listed in the credits of Farrah's Story as an executive producer – states that he has a legally binding agreement with the critically ill actress that gives him authority over the project.

The suit claims Nevius worked "closely" with Fawcett for two years on the documentary, filming "intimate details of her cancer treatment and her determination to take control of her life."

Nevius alleges that in September 2008, O'Neal – Fawcett's longtime companion – contacted him and demanded he relinquish control of the documentary and its production company. Says the suit: "When Nevius respectfully declined, O’Neal physically threatened him."

Farrah's Declining Health

By March 2009, the suit claims, Fawcett’s illness had grown worse and that she was "unavailable and unable to function and/or communicate her instructions and/or decisions for a prolonged period of time."

Also named in the lawsuit is Alana Stewart, Rod's ex, a Fawcett friend and producer on the project. The suit says that in April 2009, Stewart contacted Nevius and tried to take advantage of Fawcett's condition by demanding "that [Stewart's] pay be doubled and she be given a 'producer' credit or she would not deliver video footage of Ms. Fawcett that she had shot for the program."

Nevius is suing for a determination by the court regarding his control over the project and for damages.

A representative for O'Neal and Stewart tells PEOPLE: "We are shocked by these allegations. Here's a woman who everyone knows has been ill and to do something like this is horrific. This has been a very difficult time for Ryan O'Neal and Farrah's family and friends. When you see something like this you have to question the motives of a person who can do something so hurtful during this very sensitive time in a person's life."


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