Crowe faces assault charge 'for hitting porter with phone'

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The Independent US

Russell Crowe, the Oscar-winning actor with a notoriously short fuse, has been arrested on assault charges and taken into custody in New York after police said he threw a telephone at a hotel employee he had summoned to his room early in the morning.

Russell Crowe, the Oscar-winning actor with a notoriously short fuse, has been arrested on assault charges and taken into custody in New York after police said he threw a telephone at a hotel employee he had summoned to his room early in the morning.

Mr Crowe, in town to promote his new boxing movie Cinderella Man, was said to have lost his temper because he couldn't put a phone call through to Australia. The police said he called a clerk to his room at the Mercer Hotel in SoHo shortly after 4 am, became upset and hurled the phone at his face, causing a "minor laceration".

The employee was taken to hospital. Mr Crowe was escorted to the nearest police precinct and charged with second-degree assault. Later in the day he appeared in court. Chad Sjoquist, an assistant district attorney, told Judge Martin Murphy that there were witnesses to the incident.

Crowe's lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, said the actor became frustrated when he was unable to get the call through, went to the lobby and got into an argument with the hotel worker.

"He [Crowe] has never been arrested in this country," Mr Lefcourt said. "He is very, very charitable, a decent human being with an excellent background."

Mr Sjoquist told the judge that Crowe had admitted to police that he had thrown the phone.

However, the actor's publicist offered a different version: "After asking the front desk several times to replace a faulty phone in his room ... Crowe brought the phone down to the front desk in an effort to address the situation in person," Robin Baum told the television show Extra.

"Words were exchanged and Crowe wound up throwing the phone against the wall. He regrets that he lost his temper but at no time did he assault anyone." Crowe was told to return to court on 14 September.

The incident was the latest piece of negative publicity for the New Zealand-born star, whose off-screen antics mirror the brooding aggression and violence he brings to his characters.

The promotional tour for Cinderella Man was marred last week; first when Crowe criticised the performance of his co-star Craig Bierko in public and then when he failed to show up for a round of media interviews.

The spat with Bierko, who plays his boxing rival in the film, began when the other actor complained he had not been invited to Mr Crowe's 40th birthday party.

The failure to show at a press junket in New York on Friday was an embarrassment to his director, Ron Howard, and co-stars Paul Giamatti and Renee Zellweger, who waited as managers made excuses for him.

Mr Crowe has also picked fights recently with members of his pub band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunt, who said they had no idea they had broken up until an announcement by Mr Crowe in the papers.

And he has given a piece of his mind to his fellow actor George Clooney, accusing him of selling out by making advertisements for clothing and car companies. Noting Mr Clooney's success in remakingOcean's Eleven, he said his fellow star had "climbed over the bones" of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and their friends "to pick up an endorsement for suits".

During the shooting of Cinderella Man in Toronto last year, he started a fight with his own bodyguard.

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