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Scoop: Sean Penn sues Lee Daniels for defamation

Sean Penn is lashing back at “Empire” creator Lee Daniels, to the tune of a $10 million defamation lawsuit, for insinuating that he beats women.

The complaint, filed Tuesday in New York, says Daniels falsely accused Penn of hitting women by likening him to “Empire” star Terrence Howard in an interview on the eve of the Emmy Awards ceremony.

“[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f—in’ demon. That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America,” Daniels told The Hollywood Reporter, commenting on Howard’s legal troubles, which have included arrests for physically abusing his ex-wives.

Penn, whose attorney is Mathew Rosengart, says in the suit that he “will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense.”

The complaint goes on to claim that Daniels, who seemed to acknowledge Howard’s guilt and condone misconduct, made the remarks to publicize his TV show.

Penn, who has had brushes with the law, has not been arrested or convicted for domestic violence.

“His ex-wives (including Madonna​)​ would confirm and attest,” the suit says. ​Penn was also married to Robin Wright, and most recently, involved with Charlize Theron.

NEW S.F. OPERA DIRECTOR

San Francisco Opera has hired from within: Matthew Shilvock, associate general director of the company since 2010, will succeed David Gockley as general director in August 2016.

Gockley, 72, announced last year that he planned to retire after the 2015-16 season. Shilvock, 38, has worked under Gockley for a dozen years in Houston and San Francisco; his promotion was announced Tuesday.

Born in Kidderminster, England, Shilvock will take over the nation’s second-largest opera company with a season that includes the world premiere of Bright Sheng’s “Dream of the Red Chamber,” slated for fall 2016. The company’s first season under his full planning will be 2018-19.

Shilvock came to the U.S. in 2002 on an Opera America fellowship and spent time with companies at Pittsburgh, Houston and Glimmerglass. The following year he became a liaison for Gockley at the Houston Grand Opera; later, he moved to The City when Gockley was hired in 2005.

Among Shilvock’s challenges will be to balance needs of longtime supporters, who often prefer traditional fare, as well as champion new programming.

“We want people’s first experience in the opera house to be resonant and to be exciting and to be to some degree comfortable, so that they will come back,” Shilvock told the The Associated Press. But he also said, “We absolutely need to continue an important and vibrant commissioning program.”

Shilvock, who also served the San Francisco Opera as director of new initiatives and assistant general director, was instrumental in developing popular simulcasts of performances at AT&T Park.

_ Wire report

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Rapper-producer-record head Jermaine Dupri is 43. … Singer Ani DiFranco is 45. … Actor Jason Alexander is 56. … Singer Bruce Springsteen is 66. … Actress-singer Mary Kay Place is 68. … Singer Julio Iglesias is 72.

Got scoops or Bay Area celebrity gossip? Email scoop@sfexaminer.com.

Examiner Staff

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