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Australian actor Jason Gann, best known for his role on TV’s dark comedy ‘Wilfred’, has been ordered to pay $325,ooo AUD in reparations following a violent outburst in which the star physically abused a government employed bus driver, Joseph Hosny, in 2007.
Hosny, who has since suffered from symptoms of chronic depression and anxiety and is now permanently unemployed, was accosted by Gann at the Flemington Race Course in Melbourne, Australia after he refused the actor a seat on an overcrowded shuttle-bus.
The TV personality repeatedly punched the 50 year old man in the head until he was forcibly removed from the vehicle by passengers, at which point Gann attempted to enter the bus via the door on the driver’s side, breaking a window in the process. Hosny drove away before Gann was able to successfully re-enter the bus.
At his 2008 court appearance, Gann pleaded no contest to assault charges and received no incarceration time but was subsequently sued by the state government of Victoria’s WorkCover workers’ insurance authority, now WorkSafe, for the cost of Hosny’s medical bills, a sum which amounted to $113,000 AUD. This claim was settled out of court.
Earlier this week, Judge Sandra Davis set the final cost of compensation at $325,000 AUD, and, in addition, ordered Gann to pay Hosny’s legal bills. The Australian quotes Davis, “[Hosny] is homeless, scared of people, has panic attacks and suicidal thoughts…I take into account that Mr Hosny is 50 years old and must live with the consequences of the assault for the rest of his life.”
Gann’s income, generated primarily by the Australian born, US adapted TV show ‘Wilfred’, is guessed at $182,000 AUD per six month American season. As a writer, executive producer, and creator of the original version, Gann would also have received an unspecified amount of money for his sale of the show’s rights to the FX Network in 2010.
So far, ‘Wilfred’, the American version of which co-stars Elijah Wood, has had two seasons in Australia and will commence its second season in the US at the end of June. Both series are based on a 2002 short-film, also co-written by Gann.
In the show, Gann plays a verbally pejorative, psychologically manipulative, sexually perverse, substance abusive, talking dog– a role for which he has received the ‘Golden Collar Award’, an honor generally bestowed upon canine actors. The American premiere in the summer of 2011 was the highest rated debut of any FX show in television history.
At the moment, the resurgence in media coverage of Gann’s assault charge has been predominantly restricted to Australian news sources. As a result, it is unclear how Hosny’s case might effect the viewer popularity of the show, if it does at all.
Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore