Tonya Harding's Rep Quits After She Allegedly Wanted to Stop Reporters from Asking About Her Past
Tonya Harding's representative Michael Rosenberg quit this week because, he claimed, she demanded reporters agree to not ask her about her past
Former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding’s longtime representative Michael Rosenberg split from her this week because, he claimed, she demanded reporters agree to not ask her about her past — or face a hefty fine.
“Unfortunately, we reached an impasse today regarding how to treat the press in the future,” Rosenberg wrote. “Her [Harding’s] adamant and final position is that reporters must sign an affidavit stating that they won’t ask her anything ‘about the past’ or they’ll be fined $25,000.”
“Obviously, it doesn’t work that way; and therefore I’ve chosen to terminate our business relationship,” he continued.
In an email to PEOPLE, Rosenberg confirmed his post but declined to comment further, beyond noting his resignation was “because of a serious business disagreement, not a personal one.”
“I didn’t think that my Facebook post would be in the press because it’s so insignificant in today’s world,” he wrote. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “Tonya’s and my split was friendly on a personal level.”
Messages left with other Harding representatives were not immediately returned on Friday.
Rosenberg wrote on Facebook on Thursday that he was “sad … but at the same time I’m happy that I had such an adventure with the movie and with recreating a new positive image for her in the public eye. And I sincerely wish her the best.”
“I thank all of you who followed me on ‘this adventure’ and offered me such encouragement and support along the way,” he concluded his post. “I’ll never forget it.”
Rosenberg’s relationship with Harding, 47, dates back decades, according to media accounts, and he has alternately been described as her agent, adviser, manager and publicist.
In a 2014 profile, he said he began working as her manager after she became the first American female figure skater to land a triple axel jump in competition, in 1991. But he said he first ended their relationship in November 1993 over conflicts with her then-husband, Jeff Gillooly.
Two months later, Harding’s rival, Nancy Kerrigan, was clubbed on the leg at a practice before the national skating championships — beginning a bizarre saga that ultimately ended with Harding’s ban from amateur skating and her pleading guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution of those responsible for the attack.
She largely remained a pariah in the years since, both in the sport and popular culture, while maintaining that she did not help carry out the assault (though U.S. Figure Skating found she had “prior knowledge” of it and was “involved” before it happened).
A new biopic about Harding’s life, I, Tonya, starring Margot Robbie, has put a renewed focus on her side of the story, including her hardscrabble life before the Kerrigan incident and the domestic violence she faced.
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Rosenberg was a key figure in getting Harding to participate in that film.
“I was like, ‘I don’t want to go through this again. I’ve been through enough, and I have my son now,’ ” Harding recalled to THR earlier this month about first being approached by I, Tonya screenwriter Steven Rogers.
“Michael Rosenberg, my manager, talked me into doing this possibly as closure,” Harding said.
The resulting press tour for the movie has brought Harding fully back into the national spotlight, including an appearance at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards, a profile in The New York Times and a two-hour special on ABC.
For her part, Kerrigan, 48, has yet to see I, Tonya (in which she is a peripheral figure). She told the Boston Globe this week:
“I really have nothing to say about it. I haven’t seen anything. I haven’t watched anything. I’ve been busy. I was at the national [figure skating] championships this week so I didn’t watch the Golden Globes. I haven’t seen the movie. I’m just busy living my life.’’
As for her feelings about Harding’s Hollywood treatment, Kerrigan said, “It’s not really part of my life. As you say, I was the victim. Like, that’s my role in this whole thing. That’s it.”