<i>Friends</i> stars (L-R) David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc.

Friends stars (L-R) David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and Matt LeBlanc. Photo: Warner Bros

Former Friends star Lisa Kudrow is demanding a new trial after the foreman of the jury that found against her in a recent lawsuit penned her a bizarre apology and claimed to feel her pain. 

Steve de Bode sent the letter - which he wrote on a red-eye flight to Atlanta - to Kudrow's lawyer after she was ordered to pay her former manager Scott Howard $US1.6 million. The jury had sided with Howard, who claimed Kudrow agreed - then refused - to pay him a slice of her earnings after they parted ways in 2007.

Howard's lawyer has responded by accusing de Bode of being "more than a bit eccentric" and "clearly ... in love" with the actress. 

Actress Lisa Kudrow demands a retrial over earnings dispute with former manager Scott Howard.

Actress Lisa Kudrow demands a retrial over earnings dispute with former manager Scott Howard. Photo: AP

The letter, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, suggests the jury made a mistake. De Bode claims he was disturbed by the "viscous [sic] attack" on Kudrow in court; that Howard's lawyers demeaned her by "playing up" her ditzy Friends character Phoebe Buffay; and that he is "feeling her despair for myself". 

"I personally hold her in the highest regard for her bravery, honesty and determination in facing public scrutiny and media attention for what is and should have remained a private matter, in order to fight what she, and now I, believe was right," he wrote. He then asked the lawyer to pass on his "personal apology" to the star. 

De Bode claims that a juror who is a lawyer unduly influenced the other jurors, allegedly telling them that in her "experience", Kudrow appears to have breached her contract. (It is unusual for lawyers to be admitted to juries.) It was also claimed this juror told the others to ignore an instruction from the judge about how to interpret the terms of Kudrow's contract. The juror has flatly denied these claims. 

Kudrow has seized upon these allegations to demand a new trial. Her new lawyer claims that one juror failed to deliberate because he couldn't "intelligibly convey his thoughts in English", according to The Hollywood Reporter, and that jurors breached an instruction by speculating about the future value of Friends in syndication.

The website described the scenario as "a postmodern twist on 12 Angry Men". The acclaimed story features a dissenting juror whose dogged questioning spares an innocent, marginalised man the death penalty. 

But Howard's lawyer, Mark Baute, did not appear to view this case as an example of the noble defence of the oppressed. 

"It's common for celebrities who are surrounded by sycophants to pretend they don't have to honour a jury's verdict," he told the website. 

"Someone on 'Team Kudrow' needs to tell her what she needs to hear, not what she wants to hear."

While this trial delivered a 10-2 verdict against Kudrow (unanimous verdicts are not required in California, merely a majority of 8 votes), Baute warned a new trial could deliver a harsher result.

"There is no way any new lawyer is going to get you out of this," he told Kudrow. "If you do face a re-trial, it will be 12-0 in Scott Howard's favour ... and the judgment will be for more money."

De Bode, a former aircraftmen in the British military, had been an American citizen for only nine months before the trial started. 

Baute says: "The juror from Great Britain who was desperate to be the foreman was more than a bit eccentric. His letter and his declaration show clearly that he was so biased and in love with Ms Kudrow that he was actually misquoting the record to the other jurors ... they were polite to Mr de Bode but they ignored his inaccurate memory and they humoured his biased approach, and they entered a correct verdict in favour of Scott Howard."

Three jurors have offered sworn statements rebutting de Bode's version of events.

Restrictions on identifying jurors are not as stringent in the US as in Australia.

During its decade-long run, Friends became one of the world's most popular sitcoms, and Kudrow's salary soared from $US13,500 per episode to $US1 million. Despite debuting in 1994 in the US, a stand-off between channels Seven (who had the rights to the first season) and Nine (who had the rights to the rest) saw eager Australian audiences endure a long wait. Not wanting to create a hit for its arch-rival, Seven hoarded the show for two years, then burned it off with twice-weekly episodes. 

mlallo@fairfaxmedia.com.au