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Farrah Fawcett in legal tug-of-war in dying days

 Actress Farrah Fawcett is shown undergoing a test in a hospital in this publicity photo from the video diary
Actress Farrah Fawcett is shown undergoing a test in a hospital in this publicity photo from the video diary 'Farrah's Story' released to Reuters May 14, 2009. REUTERS/NBC/Handout
— image credit: Reuters

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A dying Farrah Fawcett is caught in the middle of a legal battle between her longtime companion, Ryan O'Neal, and a producer who has worked with the "Charlie's Angels" star during her fight with cancer.

The dispute centers on the TV documentary "Farrah's Story," which is set to air on NBC on Friday. Fawcett collaborated with producer Craig Nevius on the video diary that makes clear she is nearing the end of her life.

Nevius filed a breach of contract lawsuit this week after accusing O'Neal or his associates of taking over the documentary without Fawcett's authorization.

"The project was recut from top to bottom, and included footage that Farrah had never seen or approved," Nevius told Reuters on Thursday.

Nevius, who said Fawcett authorized him to act on her behalf, declined to detail the differences between the two versions, saying he had not been allowed to see the final cut of the new version.

He has also been banned by O'Neal's business manager from communicating with Fawcett "under physical and professional threat," he said.

The defendants in the suit are O'Neal, his business manager, and Fawcett's friend Alana Stewart, the former wife of rocker Rod Stewart.

A spokesman for O'Neal and Fawcett said the "Love Story" actor "finds this lawsuit deplorable and disgusting."

"They're shocked at this unconscionable act being done as Farrah fights for her life. Ryan is devastated. We hope and pray that Farrah does not know or see this lawsuit in the condition she is in right now," Paul Bloch said.

The 90-minute film, much of it narrated by Fawcett, 62, chronicles the actress' numerous medical treatments and recent weeks when she has been bedridden, heavily medicated and barely able to recognize her and O'Neal's son, Redmond.

She was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006, and it spread to her liver two years ago. The film includes footage of Fawcett shaving her own hair late last year when it began to fall out after chemotherapy.

Nevius' lawsuit was filed in the same week that Fawcett's representatives dropped legal action over the rights to an iconic 1970s photo of her in a red bathing suit.

(Additional reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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