A journalist accused of striking Brad Pitt at the “Maleficent” premiere is out of a job and possibly faces months in jail.
Ukrainian TV reporter Vitalii Sediuk is infamous for red carpet pranks around the world, including kissing Will Smith in Moscow and hugging Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper around the knees at separate events earlier this year.
Sediuk, 25, was fired from his reporter job with Ukrainian television channel 1+1 after he jumped under actress America Ferrera’s dress on a Cannes red carpet on May 17, a spokesman for the company told CNN.
The TV network was not involved in his stunts, a spokesman said.
He was already on three years of “formal diversion” — a form of probation — in Los Angeles for crashing the Grammy stage during Adele’s acceptance last year, according to the Los Angeles city attorney’s spokesman. Prosecutors are now preparing new charges for his Hollywood arrest Wednesday, spokesman Rob Wilcox said.
Sediuk is set for an initial appearance before a Los Angeles judge Friday, Wilcox said.
The lawyer who represented Seduik in the Grammy case was surprised when CNN called him Thursday about the latest arrest.
Sediuk is “a real nice guy,” Anthony Willoughby said. “I’m really shocked that he would be accused of hitting somebody.”
Pitt was signing autographs at the area of the red carpet where fans are allowed to gather when Sediuk allegedly jumped the rope and hit actor in his face, according to Los Angeles Police Sgt. Leonard Calderon. Pitt, who was there with partner Angelina Jolie, star of “Maleficent,” continued unfazed on the carpet to give interviews.
“This was an unfortunate and inappropriate incident that is being investigated by the LAPD,” a spokesman for Disney Studio, the film’s distributor, told CNN on Thursday.
Police did not say whether Pitt was punched or slapped, just that the attacker struck him in the face. He was quickly tackled by bodyguards, handcuffed by police and hauled away to jail.
Sediuk was held in the LAPD’s Hollywood jail on suspicion of battery, pending $20,000 bond, according to online jail records. Attorney Willoughby said he had not yet been called by Sediuk for help getting out of jail, but he planned to send another lawyer to the jail to check on him. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to call me,” he said.
When Sediuk is freed, he is barred from going near Pitt. Los Angeles police issued an emergency protective order effective for five days starting Thursday, but the actor’s lawyer can ask a judge to extend it.
The prosecutor will also ask a judge to issue a stay-away order barring Sediuk from any entertainment industry events in Los Angeles, Wilcox said.
Sediuk’s celebrity pranks are usually silly, attention-getting stunts that do not involve violence.
He eluded security to get a second-row seat inside the Staples Center at the 2013 Grammy Awards, despite having no credentials. Sediuk jumped onto the stage when Jennifer Lopez announced Adele as the winner. “I love you, Adele,” he is heard saying as the singer approached. He was arrested offstage and later prosecuted on two misdemeanor charges.
He eventually accepted a plea deal for probation with the provision that he not go back to the Staples Center and stay out of trouble for three years.
“I think that the court overly protects the entertainment industry,” Willoughby told CNN.
Award show and premiere producers apparently black-listed Sediuk after last year’s Grammy incident. He was denied reporter credentials to the Oscars, but he showed up anyway wearing a feathered swan outfit similar to the one worn by Björk on the 2001 Oscars red carpet. He was ordered to leave the venue after telling police it was a protest.
His celebrity stunts apparently began when Sediuk handed Madonna an odd and unwelcomed gift of a hydrangea during a news conference at the Venice Film Festival in September 2011. “I absolutely loathe hydrangeas,” she said as she stuffed them under a table.
Sediuk’s infamy grew in May 2012 on a Moscow red carpet where Will Smith was attending a movie premiere. Video shows Sediuk attempting to kiss the actor on the mouth. “Come on, what the hell is your problem?” Smith said as he pushed the reporter away and lightly slapped him. “He’s lucky I ain’t sucker punched him.”
Sediuk crawled onto a red carpet and under Ferraro’s dress at the Cannes Film Festival in France earlier this month. Video shows him being dragged away. It was this incident that cost him his job at the Ukrainian channel, the company said.
Sediuk’s actions “were neither suggested nor coordinated by the network,” 1+1 TV spokesman Serhiy Popov told CNN on Thursday. “Vitalii was acting on his own behalf and not on the behalf of the channel.”
The network is not helping Sediuk deal with his legal problems, Popov said.