Steven Soderbergh’s paternity drama is sketchy as hell


Last week, I saw the news that Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brockovich, the Ocean’s Eleven films) was hit by a paternity suit. It made me sad, because I thought he and his wife were tight – I have a lot of affection for his wife, Jules Asner, who used to be the cohost of E! News back when I was in college. She was really pretty and a good entertainment journalist, and her red carpet interviews were always tight. The rise of Dame Seacrest has only made me miss her more. Anyway, I didn’t write about Soderbergh’s paternity drama because I was waiting to see if it was just some random thing or if there was something juicy there.

As it turns out, Soderbergh did father a child with a woman in Australia, and he is acknowledging his paternity. BUT – the story is still strange. He and Jules are still together, but they’re claiming that they were “separated” when Soderbergh fathered the child, back in December 2009.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker was slapped with a paternity suit Thursday in New York, filed by an Australian woman who claims they had an affair in December 2009 and he’s the father of her now 5-month-old daughter. Well, she’s apparently right. He admits to being the father and his smokin’ wife, model and former E! host Jules Asner, already knows all about it.

A source close to the couple confirms to E! News that Soderbergh and Asner were separated while he lived in Australia to direct a play he wrote, Tot Mom, which opened at the Sydney Theatre Company in December 2009.

The very month, “including but not limited to,” that Frances Lawrencina Anderson claims that she and the Traffic director had “sexual intercourse on many occasions covering all possible dates of [conception]…and as a result thereof, she became pregnant,” according to the suit filed Thursday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

He “has acknowledged that he is the father of the child verbally and by offering to pay various medical and other expenses incurred by [Anderson] in relation to the pregnancy,” the suit, obtained by the New York Daily News, continues.

True that. Our source says that Soderbergh came clean to his wife immediately upon hearing he had fathered a child and that he has been trying to work things out with Anderson for months.

“Steven really felt like he was trying to do the right thing and being very generous,” the source says. “They’ve been trying to settle this for almost a year.”

Soderbergh’s camp is convinced that Anderson went after the director where he lives because Australian law would only obligate him to financially provide for daughter Pearl Button Anderson, who was born Aug. 30, 2010. Stating that Anderson is not able to sufficiently support her daughter, the suit demands that Soderbergh pay for the mother’s health insurance, in addition to child support.

“It was a two-night stand, Steve and Jules are fine,” says a source close to Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh, who’s married to Jules Asner. He was slapped with a paternity suit last week after having an affair with an Australian woman.

So what’s really going on here?

“He was down in Australia, directing a play,” said a source super-close to Stephen and his wife, Jules, who I used to work with at here E! “They were separated at the time, and, of course, this woman got pregnant, as luck would have it.”

Does he want to take care of the kid?

“Take care, yes,” said our tight S.S. insider, “but get to know? No. He just wants to pay for the child’s support, as he should.”

Soderbergh, we’re told, has been trying to settle the matter for almost a year, but the woman’s attorneys keep rejecting his offers. And then she decided to sue in the U.S., where she stands a greater chance of prevailing, at least monetarily.

“It was just a two-night affair,” reveals the Soderbergh source.

Also, our inside camper insists things are fine on the Jules/Steven front, and that they’re getting along well after their brief separation. Asner even joked to her husband, when he went off to work with Jude Law in the thriller he’s now directing, Contagion: “Well, at least you’ll have talking points with Jude.”

[From E! Newstwo stories]

Even if Soderbergh came clean to Jules about fathering a child, is it still weird that Jules would be cracking paternity jokes and that she and Steven are solid now? I don’t know. I’m also not sure that I buy this whole “separation” story, but if that’s what they’re sticking with, so be it. Maybe Jules was initially upset but this other woman is just trying to cash in big time, and Jules is just supporting Steven during this time.

Sigh… I miss Steve Kmetko too.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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57 Responses to “Steven Soderbergh’s paternity drama is sketchy as hell”

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  1. l says:

    Why can’t men keep it in their pants? Or the VERY least, put a rain coat on it?

    Do SS and Jules have any children together? Hmmm…off to google.

  2. mln76 says:

    These powerful men need to have their own stash of untampered condoms with them at all times. It’s sad that he isn’t going to have a relationship with the kid.

  3. brin says:

    Yeah, I like Jules and miss her on E.
    I don’t know what to make of all this but I am definitely Team Jules!

  4. malachais says:

    I miss the good ol’ days, Steve Kmetko and Jules Asner.

  5. Alexis says:

    She’s so cute, but he looks so cold and distant in all those pictures. Their story does sound a little strange.

  6. Jackson says:

    The baby’s name is “Pearl Button?” That really should be the lead for this story…

  7. Rita says:

    I guess “seperated” simply means his wife wasn’t with him. To knock up the “strange” during a “seperation” is either really bad luck or he has so many swimmers they just overwhelmed the birth control. (Take no prisoners…charge!!!)

  8. Tuatara says:

    “Pearl Button”, eh? That’s some name…

  9. Kaboom says:

    “At least you’ll have talking points with Jude” Genius!

  10. Cinderella says:

    Do these men EVER learn???

    I like Jules, but she is a stronger woman than me. Those glasses of his would have been slapped from here to Australia.

  11. jr says:

    I am beginning to think that men cannot be monogamous AT ALL…not possible…geez.

  12. Feebee says:

    I don’t think it’s strange that a wife may find some humour in the situation. Better than crying about it. It’s happened now. She’s happy with her husband and is just getting on with it.

  13. KJ says:

    Pearl Button? WTF?

    I don’t think humans are meant to be monogamous. I think women are more inclined to because we tend to be the pleasers in the relationships, not because we are meant to be. Monogamy is a human invention in my eyes.

    That being said, I think it is just as possible to stay in relationship with out straying as it is to cheat on someone and get over it as a couple. People make mistakes, and while I’m not saying cheating is ok or should be accepted, I do believe that cheating on someone, especially if it was a fling, a mistake or during a time of instability/separation, is not the end of the road. If they can pick things up and move on, continuing to love and respect each other as best as two humans can, then good on them. If they can’t, I hope they both get out before someone gets even more hurt or humiliated.

    And normally I don’t like to villainize women who seek child support, but something about this story is off. They’ve been trying to settle this for over a year? The woman’s lawyer keeps rejecting the offers? It seems like Soderbergh is a reasonable guy – the story mentions that he was pretty quick to take responsibility and get something done about it to ensure the welfare of the baby, so would he really be so stingy with the dough that it takes a YEAR to hammer out an arrangement? Something’s not right, methinks.

  14. Nanea says:

    I do remember reading something some time ago that they had separated/were separating. As I had seen them at a film festival only weeks before where they seemed OK, I kept looking for more, e.g. other party involved.

    As I didn’t hear anything else, I assumed they had worked it out.

    I don’t get this though. I don’t get how men go about fathering kids while still legally married.

  15. ycnan says:

    He doesn’t want to know his child. I understand it’s not the best situation to have a child but that is just so cold and heartless.

    Was the women trying to get knocked up, magic 8 ball says “most likely” but it’s STILL his flesh and blood. So gross, I have no respect for anyone who choses to do that.

  16. iknow says:

    One word – condoms.

  17. Summer says:

    If they work out all their problems and she knows about the kid then who are to judge my godparents who are like second parents to me went thought the same thing the only the opposite she is the one who step out on their marriage once, and she came clean with my godfather and he found away to forgive her 25 years later and their still together. It takes a strong person to forgive something like that but it can be done and be sold after from what my godmother told me he didn’t forgive her over night but gradually with time and help from a marriage counselor he forgave her and their happy now.

  18. fabgrrl says:

    Condoms, condoms, condoms! Or if that’s too much trouble, vasectomy!

  19. kimn123 says:

    She is nice enough to protect him, but he looks disgusting, don’t know what she sees in that man. The other woman is the lowest of all, typical baby-scammer these days, waiting for her monthly child support paycheck for her pathetic next 20 years or so.

  20. lucy2 says:

    I too vaguely remember hearing a while back that they had separated. Sounds like he’s trying to do the right thing financially and the woman is looking for more cash, but it’s really a shame he only wants to be a bank account and not a father. Not fair to the kid, who’s already going to have enough problems with that name.
    I’m amazed at how many seemingly intelligent people are careless and put themselves in bad positions.

  21. Nancy says:

    I used to watch E! when it was Jules and Steve after they left I stopped watching.

  22. icantbelievethis says:

    I couldn’t imagine staying with someone who cheated, however I would forgive them for cheating before forgiving them for abandoning a child. I could never, ever stay with my DH if I found out he walked away from his own child (even if he provided for the child financially). I’ve seen first hand how it affects a kid.

  23. poppy says:

    i’m with everyone mentioning condoms.
    how stupid is this guy? stupid and gross.

    how sad is it to know your father screwed your mother but didn’t want to have a relationship with you, the by-product of their intercourse? bad enough knowing your dad only considered your mom a piece of ass but to not want anything to do with his own child is pathetic. yep, takes a classy sort of guy to be that kind of father.
    on top of it, the middle name button.
    poor little girl.

  24. tracking says:

    @Rita–cosign. The wording ‘separated’ is clever (and unintentionally funny). Of course they were separated, physically that is!

  25. bagladey says:

    I too miss Steve Kmetko. No matter how financially generous Steven Soderbergh is to the child’s mother it’s very cold and irresponsible for him to not want to meet his child, and money will never compensate for her not having her father in her life.

  26. Iggles says:

    @ ycnan: “He doesn’t want to know his child. I understand it’s not the best situation to have a child but that is just so cold and heartless.”

    I agree! It’s disgusting when men do that. It’s not the child’s fault you don’t like their mother!

  27. Amandahugandkiss says:

    They were on a break!

    Looks like the Ross Defense is still alive and well.

  28. KJ says:

    I dunno if I necessarily agree that he’s cold and heartless for not wanting to be in the child’s life. He should’ve used a condom or, at best, just not fucked that lady. But he did, and now we’re here, and as someone who COULD’VE made those kinds of life altering decisions earlier in my life, I can honestly say that I kind of get it. I don’t want kids. At least not now, and if I were to get pregnant, I would put the child up for adoption. I’m not cut out to be a parent, I don’t think, and I would never want the responsibility of raising another human. It’s like someone giving you an eggs. You could destroy it with so much as a sneaze. There were no children mentioned for Soderbergh and his wife, so maybe they don’t want kids? And I think it’s much better to be raised by a parent or parents that want you (again, not to sound cold, but just in a very matter of fact sense, some people see their future with kids, others don’t), then to feel like you’re a burden your whole life. I think if he agreed to financially support the child (and the mother’s maternity bills), and signed over his parental rights, I don’t understand what the big deal is. Isn’t adoption the same thing?

    Now, if he didn’t sign over his rights, or provide, and was just like screw that, I don’t want no babies, BYE, then I get the disgust. But to villify him for not wanting kids? Yes, I realize he should’ve thought about that before the whole no condom wearing thing, but I just can’t hate him for not wanting anything to do with the child. If it were me, I wouldn’t either. I’m not cut out to be a mom, and I wouldn’t want to force my shitty mothering on an innocent child. I’d give it to someone who could do a much better job without me.

  29. Zelda says:

    I’m betting this is an open relationship and they don’t want to say so because of the judging people will do.

    In any case, if they’ve worked stuff out, good for them. If they have managed to come to terms with it, their relationship could end up all the stronger for it.

  30. jen says:

    this other woman is just trying to cash in big time

    MY GOD I get tired of hearing that on this site. If he didn’t want a baby he could have wrapped his f*cking dick. It goes both ways here, people. He knocked her up, now he has to take responsibility. Doesn’t matter her motives (though I know on this site it means she’s an evil, calculating whore who cast her web to ensnare some poor, unsuspecting man, that’s standard here) he could – SHOULD – have WRAPPED. IT. UP.

  31. Cletus says:

    I cosign with #28- that’s why women shouldn’t have kids with Randoms. Okay, yes, condoms would have been good, but SHE wasn’t the most responsible, either- it’s not like he STRUCK her pregnant. If she wants the kid, by all means have the kid. But if I were her, I wouldn’t expect the dude to sign on just because -I- chose to be a parent. I think it’s enought to ask that a) he is financially responsible, and b) to at least be available in case the kid or mom has questions about medical history.

  32. Beck says:

    They probably have an open marriage.

  33. icantbelievethis says:

    @KJ You may very valid points. I think the difference w/adoption is that a child is given to a new family in order to have a better life. They don’t necessarily grow up knowing who their biological parents are unless it is an open adoption and then there is usually interaction with the bio parents.

    In this case the child will grow up knowing that her bio dad didn’t want to see or know her and that she was just another financial obligation. He’s not giving her up so she’ll have a better life, he just doesn’t want the child (or that’s how I see it). I feel the same way about Jude Law and the baby he doesn’t see. Imagine how that little girl will feel looking at pap photos of JL and his other kids:(

  34. jen34 says:

    My first thought was exactly what #1 said. Why can’t men just keep it in their pants?

    I seriously think that if any of these Hollywood marriages survive, it’s because of openness. Sex is just too easy to come by when a guy is powerful. If the current wife can’t put up with it, then the guy will find someone else who can. Kind of a sad situation for all involved. I miss Steve Kmetko, too. I pretty much stopped watching after he left.

  35. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    If he didn’t want children he shouldn’t have had any. The distance between ‘don’t want children’ and ‘don’t want to acknowledge children’ is vast and you could write a dissertation outlining all of the totally valid and justifiable reasons (like ‘issues’ and ‘drama’) for running out your kid, but after a while, you just think, ‘so what?’ Things were heated in my home growing up and I hated hearing ‘it could be worse’ in relation to parenting snafus. What the heck is that? What does even mean? Do you think that helps?

    An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t mean you’re required to hate the kid. What, rather than figure out how to deal with the changes you’re ethically obligated to systematically dismantle that kid’s life to prove some asinine point about being a freedom fighter or political prisoner? ‘Your honour, I had to dispose of my kid like the used condom I refuse to wear because it was a cry for help. I don’t have to afraid anymore, that kid victimized me knowing full well that she wasn’t wanted or loved. Poor frigging me.’ Five minutes late for gym class and it’s detention, abandon your infant and you’re a hero. Kids are attention whores.

    I hate the idea of a kid wondering about a parent and knowing that that parent doesn’t give a shit. That’s devastating. How can you counter child abandonment with ‘but her mother was scheming (because that’s all women ever do, apparently)?’ So, don’t marry her, for the love of Joe. ‘It’s only because
    where parenting is concerned, I don’t feel like it?’ I don’t know, guys.

  36. Isa says:

    I don’t think it means that he cheated. It really depends on the terms of their seperation. Perhaps they just meant for a break, or perhaps it was a step towards divorce. Who knows?

    I would be pissed that he didn’t use good protection. I would insist he get tested if I were Jules.

    The name Pearl Button is horrible and I can’t believe you didn’t mention the bangs trauma on Jules.

    Anyway, if I were his wife I would want that child to know her father.

  37. Lisa Turtle says:


    I too long for the days of Jules Asner. She was a real class act, especially in comparison to that catty little closet-case Ryan Seacrest.

    That is all!

  38. Alexa says:

    I also share #28’s view on the matter. When a brief sexual escapade transpires between two “strangers” – neither party should EXPECT that the other one will choose to be a fully involved parent if a pregnancy results. DUH!

  39. Christine says:

    I miss Steve Kmetko too!!! Where did he end up? Loved Jules too, but come ON. This is ridiculous. She just puts up with it.

  40. carrie says:

    he’s clever so why don’t use CONDOMSSSS? and if his wife is OKAY,i’m Okay!

  41. Taradash says:

    Condoms or no condoms there is still the fact that this marriage has suffered infidelities. Many do, Many dont. many pretend they “dont” . were humans really programmed to be monogamous.? I for one would never to this to my partner. guess i believe in karma.

    but as i see things it happens all the time and more than one partner has either looked the other way or forgiven them.

  42. Bodhi says:

    I don’t understand why people are so skeptical that they were separated. They WERE separated, as in headed toward divorce. Therefore they did not consider themselves married & could sleep with whomever they wanted to. If they didn’t think they were married then he didn’t cheat on his wife. End of story.

    And while I understand that people think that he should have contact with his child, I can totally understand where he is coming from.

  43. Kim says:

    Mama Besser – Amen!

    So are we to assume he used no protection with this woman?? Jules better make him get tested for STD’s.

    Its one thing to be seperated and have a fling but to have unsafe sex at his age – ewwwwwwwwwwwww!

  44. Luaren says:

    Just want to point out that all of this information about walking away from his kid, only wanting to provide financially, etc, are from an “inside source”… I call BS. It may be true, it may not be, but it’s way too easy for a publication to print something and cite a “super close inside source.”

  45. Roma says:

    I have an exboyfriend who is the type of guy every girl wants a piece of (rich, good looking, etc). He therefore always wears condoms and even then, he will not finish up inside a girl. Just to be safe.

    He used to always say “my sperm, you can’t have it.” It was funny, not douchy.

    If you have sex without a condom I don’t have any leniency for you. Because though condoms sometimes break, you know these guys weren’t using any.

  46. TG says:

    Good to know that the US hasn’t cornered the market on low class women.

  47. Someone Else says:

    I never noticed how much she looked like Justine Bateman.

    To be fair (because I don’t know), it doesn’t say the mother wants him to be a part of things, just that she wants things paid for.

    I can see that. I don’t see any of my ex’s cash (which sucks), but then I also don’t have to see my ex (which doesn’t). My son is much better off without that drama.

    Maybe she feels the same?

  48. Jeannified says:

    What a douche for not wanting to get to know the child. So the child should suffer, because he didn’t use protection? Horrible!

  49. Anti-icon says:

    um no, I seriously doubt everything is peachy on the home front. I also seriously doubt there was any separation. And over time, wouldn’t any person want to form some kind of “relationship” with their own child? This is some jacked up shite.

  50. Ally says:

    Yeah, I think what he has in common with Jude Law is being a woman-using jerk, who can cut off a child from his/her right to know his/her parent, because his own convenience is paramount.

    This selfish emotional compartmentalization/retentiveness makes them more loathsome and divorce-worthy than anything.

    I’ve always found Soderbergh’s movies emotionally unplugged; now I see why.

  51. Camille says:

    @Bodhi: Ditto.

    Also, haven’t these women ever heard of the ‘morning after pill’? I mean if you think your birth control failed or whatever, then get thee to a doctor/pharmacy stat!

  52. flourpot says:

    I agree, prolly an open marriage.
    And to all you who are saying he should have used a condom – well, maybe he did.

    And maybe it was defective from manufacturing. Or maybe she gave it a little lick and nip before entry and crossed her fingers. Or maybe she squeege’d the damn thing and stood on her head for an hour.

    The story isn’t that she’s pregnant or that his wife didn’t leave him or even that he doesn’t want to be “daddy”.

    The story is they’ve been trying to settle the money part for a year and that right there speaks volumes, don’t you think?

  53. N.D. says:

    @Bodhi “I don’t understand why people are so skeptical that they were separated.”

    Yeah, I don’t get it either. It happens, people separate, then get back together or divorce some time later. Of cource each couple defines the terms of separation for themselves but it’s not unreasonable to assume that they agreed to explore other options during that time. Lots of couples do that.

    Also I don’t get why everyone assumes that they didn’t use any protections. Accidents happen, people! And they do sometimes happen without anyone noticing until it’s too late.

    The whole “doesn’t want to know his kid” thing is weird to me but I can’t help but feel for him in this situation. Doesn’t look like he had much say in her having this baby. Looks like she decided she wants to be a mother and he had no choice but follow her along – it’s not quite fair. Forcing people into parenthood isn’t a good idea, so women should have a right to an abortion, and shouldn’t men be given some similar rights too? As it is now it seems they have no choice in the matters and their only power is to “keep it in their pants” at all times and who really thinks it’s a right way to go besides Bristol Palin?

    Plus, this baby-mama lives in Australia, he’s in US, how is he supposed to be a present father without abandoning his american family? He’d be a father in name only in these circumstances.

  54. laura says:

    I tried to read the posts, Steve Kmetko, Pearl Button, the Ross defense, etc. I’m distracted by the bangs trauma in the 2nd pic of Jules Asner.

  55. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Well, I’ve already outed myself as pretty inflexible on this topic but (money aside) it’s because I know what’s coming for her, and it’s a drag. When you’re little, people are nosy about The Incredible Vanishing Father and after that it’s stripper alley. Not the worst thing, just irritating in that ‘I demand that you justify your existence, you wastrel six-year-old’, or something. There aren’t a huge amount of things I consider to be unforgiveable, but this is one of them and crocodile tears about mitigating circumstances don’t go the whole distance for me. Of course something bad happened, that’s why they’re not together, of course it was complicated, that’s legitimate. Throw in a serving of Wife Swap I assume is excruciating. No one’s a hero or villian, but babies don’t materialize of their own volition or de-materialize because you want them around.

    15, 20, 30–however many years down the road, say they meet somehow through some contrived deus ex machina device. Assume she asks ‘What kind of fuckery is this?’ Some responses that get the gas face:

    -didn’t feel like it
    -I was too busy chucklin’ around with the Doublemint Twits on Lake Como. How would I ever get to where you live, doesn’t that take planes?
    -ever heard of astral projection? Well, some porn ho is going to use her mouth for words, which happens only once in a blue ball. A far more powerful experience when you’re in Belize.
    I don’t like your mom. Okay, but how many happy, supportive mothers do you see in Shakespeare or Disney? I mean, after the murders?

  56. SteveW says:

    It’s a royal mess, sure.
    Sounds like the lawyers see a big payday here – it’s probably their advice which is taking this to a NY court instead of Oz. In any case, after the thing is settled, it would be cruel to “Pearl Button” to have zero relationship with her father as she grows up. Actually the child is the main issue here, not the money or the celebrity.

  57. mamaoffreida says:

    It’s sketchy because it’s probably not true. Doubt they were separated or that the affair was a two night stand.

    Sketchier still that two people who look to be well into their forties would think that it makes them look better to say so, rather than just kinda sleazy.

    Trivialize your own marriage if you want, but don’t trivialize a kid.