Actress Julia Roberts is being sued by four female jazz musicians who are accusing the Hollywood star of paying them less for appearing in her movie Mona LISA SMILE than their male counterparts.

The New York quartet - JEANNE DALY, JILL McCARRON, ADA ROVATTI AND LAUREN SEVIANHAVE - have filed a lawsuit in MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT claiming they were paid half of what they were promised.

But Roberts and her production company have hit back - they're counter-suing the foursome, claiming they tried to "harass, embarrass and annoy defendants in order to extract a sizeable settlement".

However, angry Daly spits, "Julia Roberts plays a professor who gets women to stand up for themselves and break out of their stereotypical roles. And here we are being discriminated against. It's pretty pathetic."

Daly insists the female musicians had been initially offered $790 (GBP440) for each eight-hour shift, but when they arrived at the set the offer was changed to $395 (GBP220) for 12 hour stints.

Meanwhile, the women claim they discovered that male jazz players in the movie were each getting $630 (GBP350) a day.

21/01/2004 17:24