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Amber Heard fires PR team over 'bad headlines', days before trial

Actor Amber Heard listens in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court during a defamation case against her by ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, in Fairfax, Virginia, US. Picture: Steve Helber Pool via Reuters

Actor Amber Heard listens in the courtroom at the Fairfax County Circuit Court during a defamation case against her by ex-husband, actor Johnny Depp, in Fairfax, Virginia, US. Picture: Steve Helber Pool via Reuters

Published May 3, 2022

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Actress Amber Heard fired her PR team and switched to a new firm after she reportedly became frustrated following a week of “bad headlines” during the defamation trial brought by her ex-husband and actor Johnny Depp, a new report claimed.

According to dailymail.co.uk, Heard was being represented by Precision Strategies, which she suddenly ditched in favour of LA-based consulting firm Shane Communications.

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She made the move in apparent hopes that she might receive more favourable coverage this week - during which time she is expected to take to the stand and testify.

“She doesn't like bad headlines,” an unnamed source told the New York Post, which first reported the news, reports dailymail.co.uk.

Another source told the newspaper that Heard, 36, is “frustrated with her story not being told effectively.”

Actor Johnny Depp holds a tumbler as he returns to the courtroom after a break at Fairfax County Circuit Court during his defamation case against ex-wife, actor Amber Heard, in Fairfax, Virginia, US. Picture: Steve Helber/Pool via Reuters

The A-list trial in Virginia, which started on April 11 and is set to last another three weeks, has so far seen Depp, 58, claim he was the victim of domestic abuse during his four days of testimony - with his bodyguard on Thursday even describing in detail the wounds on the actor's face allegedly sustained during a confrontation with Heard.

The actor is suing Heard for $50 million, claiming she defamed him and ruined his career after a 2018 Washington Post article in which she described herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse”, without naming her ex-husband.

Heard is counter-suing for $100 million, and after three weeks of sitting silently in the courtroom during Depp's testimony, she is preparing to start her fightback, possibly as soon as Wednesday.

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Actor Amber Heard talks to her attorney at Fairfax County Circuit Court during a defamation case against her by actor Johnny Depp, her ex-husband, in Fairfax, Virginia, US. Picture: Steve Helber/Pool via Reuters

The PR firm switch came following several days of court testimony from Depp witnesses that saw the social-media mob suddenly turn against Heard.

Heard's credibility as a philanthropist also took a battering when it was claimed she had not donated her $3.5 million divorce settlement to charity, something she had promised publicly to do. She had apparently donated only $1.3 million and much of that appeared to have come from her former boyfriend, billionaire Elon Musk.

According to Terence Dougherty, the chief operating officer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the recipient of Amber's “largesse” of $500,000, it came from a Vanguard fund connected to Musk.

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Her contributions dried up by 2019, and Dougherty told the court the ACLU “learned that she was having financial difficulties”.

Heard's lawyer is arguing Depp abused her both physically and sexually and she hopes to make her point once she takes the stand early this week.

Shane Communications is led by its CEO David Shane, who has briefed against Depp in the past.

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In 2017, the firm highlighted accusations made by Depp's former business managers, The Management Group, alleging that the Pirates of the Caribbean star needed to hire a shrink for his “compulsive spending” habit of spending $2 million per month.

Depp then launched a $25 million lawsuit last month against his business managers, The Mandel Company, claiming “gross mismanagement” of his affairs.

One crisis communications expert told the Post that they believed the new PR company would have its work cut out in order to change the narrative.

“It’s crazy to change teams in the middle of a trial like this because you don’t like the headlines,” said Lis Smith, a senior communications director for Pete Buttigieg's 2020 presidential campaign.

“After years of narrative building, you can’t change the public’s opinion in the three weeks when someone is suing you in a case.”

Heard never wanted cameras to be allowed in the courtroom at all, but Depp's team pushed for it, and won.

Depp has even accused his ex of defecating on their bed in an act of aggression.

Testimony so far has also included photos of severed fingers, pictures of faeces, videos of explosive arguments and temper tantrums, and even a discussion about the Hollywood star's penis.

Depp denies the allegations of abuse noting how he brought the lawsuit in order to clear his name.

Lawyers for Heard say such denials are not credible because the actor was too drunk and high to remember what occurred. The trial in the Fairfax County Courthouse runs Monday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm, and is set to conclude on May 19.

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