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Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are now two scorpions locked in a dance of death, writes JAN MOIR 

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard are now two scorpions locked in a dance of death, writes JAN MOIR 

Johnny and Amber are not done yet. Almost two years after the couple faced each other across a British courtroom they are back to fight another day. This time in America, where things are very different, especially when it comes to television coverage.

Cameras inside Fairfax County Courtroom in Virginia caught every drop of drama during opening statements in the first day of Depp V Heard.

Fittingly, both participants appeared to be dressed in costumes. Johnny in white tie gangster chic, Amber with a demure Calamity Jane bootlace tied at her neck. They each had nothing and yet everything to lose in this high stakes case.

‘This is about his whole life. This is about his ability to walk down the street and look someone in the eye without having them think he is an abuser. This is about the truth,’ said Depp’s lawyer Camille Vasquez.

As his prosecuting team set out their arguments, Depp frequently touched his face or stroked his moustache while his ex-wife maintained a detached composure, even as she was described as someone who ‘painted herself as a heroic and innocent survivor of abuse by Mr Depp to raise her own profile and to advance her own career’. 

Johnny (Pictured) and Amber are not done yet. Almost two years after the couple faced each other across a British courtroom they are back to fight another day. This time in America, where things are very different, especially when it comes to television coverage

Johnny (Pictured) and Amber are not done yet. Almost two years after the couple faced each other across a British courtroom they are back to fight another day. This time in America, where things are very different, especially when it comes to television coverage

Both participants appeared to be dressed in costumes. Johnny in white tie gangster chic, Amber (Pictured) with a demure Calamity Jane bootlace tied at her neck. They each had nothing and yet everything to lose in this high stakes case

Both participants appeared to be dressed in costumes. Johnny in white tie gangster chic, Amber (Pictured) with a demure Calamity Jane bootlace tied at her neck. They each had nothing and yet everything to lose in this high stakes case

As his prosecuting team set out their arguments, Depp frequently touched his face or stroked his moustache while his ex-wife maintained a detached composure, even as she was described as someone who ‘painted herself as a heroic and innocent survivor of abuse by Mr Depp to raise her own profile and to advance her own career’

As his prosecuting team set out their arguments, Depp frequently touched his face or stroked his moustache while his ex-wife maintained a detached composure, even as she was described as someone who ‘painted herself as a heroic and innocent survivor of abuse by Mr Depp to raise her own profile and to advance her own career’

Vasquez mentioned Depp’s problems with addictions – how could she not? – but pointed out that ‘this does not make him a wife beater’.

When she sat down afterwards, Depp patted her arm, while she gave his a supportive squeeze.

Meanwhile lawyer J. Ben Rottenborn, for Amber Heard, insisted: ‘We’re gonna focus on the evidence. Not what we wish the evidence would show. Not some crazy conspiracy theory.’

The trial is expected to last for at least three weeks and digital broadcast network Court TV can barely contain its excitement.

Presenter Ted Rowlands, smart of suit and big of quiff, practically smacked his lips when he promised viewers not only a ‘front row seat to justice’ but also ‘gavel-to-gavel coverage’. 

Ted was also rather blunt about the couple’s relationship at the heart of the case, describing it as ‘this mess that has gone on for years’. He’ll never make an agony aunt.

Depp and Heard are seen in September 2015 in Venice, Italy - the same year the alleged Australia 'hostage situation' took place

Depp and Heard are seen in September 2015 in Venice, Italy – the same year the alleged Australia ‘hostage situation’ took place  

Depp was seen rolling tobacco during a cigarette break on the first day of his trial

Depp was seen rolling tobacco during a cigarette break on the first day of his trial 

Depp is seen taking a smoke break outside the courthouse after opening statements

Depp is seen taking a smoke break outside the courthouse after opening statements 

Over on the Law & Crime Network, anchorman Jesse Weber has an even bigger quiff than Ted. He also had a grander boast that his ‘feed from the courtroom will be live and uninterrupted’, which made it sound like hosing a torrent of Trill down a budgie’s open throat, which I suppose is not a million miles from the truth.

He added ‘the great news is that we are going to watch it all unfold in real time’.

Great news for whom? Certainly not Depp and Heard, stuck fast in the amber of this ongoing nightmare, albeit of their own making. In this defamation case he is suing her for $50million for suggesting he is a domestic abuser, while she is countersuing him for $100million because he called her a perjuror and hoax artist.

And while not wishing to be a hypocrite about the blanket television coverage – here I am in the USA, watching it avidly like millions of others – sometimes the broadcasters spread a little too much relish on this unedifying hamburger of hate.

Early on Monday morning, Jesse Weber talked to his Law & Crime reporter Angenette Levy in Virginia.

‘Walk me through the scene, what is happening right now outside the courthouse,’ he boomed, excitement palpable.

Amber Heard wore a gray suit and black top in court and appeared tense as she entered the courthouse Tuesday

Amber Heard wore a gray suit and black top in court and appeared tense as she entered the courthouse Tuesday 

Johnny Depp was seen entering court in Fairfax, Virginia, Tuesday wearing a navy blue suit and shades. He gave his fans a thumbs up as he waked by and joked with his legal team before the trial began

Johnny Depp was seen entering court in Fairfax, Virginia, Tuesday wearing a navy blue suit and shades. He gave his fans a thumbs up as he waked by and joked with his legal team before the trial began

Not very much was the honest answer back. Camera crews shuffled about. A car with blacked out windows drew up. ‘I’m having a little trouble seeing,’ said Angenette, who could have done with a lorgnette. A periscope perhaps. Or even a clue. ‘Jesse can you see better than I can, was that Amber Heard walking in?’

‘No,’ he replied. Did I imagine it, or was there a whiff of drooped quiff, a dent of disappointment in his hot hair soufflé?

Indeed, everyone was frustrated that instead of grandstanding at the front doors of the court, Depp and Heard are secreted in through the back entrance, past the court’s yellow dustbins, like fugitives.

This follows Judge Penney Azcarate imposing a series of access rules to try to maintain decorum in and around the courthouse. Good luck with that.

She does not want a repeat of the scenes outside the High Court in London in 2020, where the stars would greet their fans like conquering heroes and even sign autographs, hamming it up rather like, well, seasoned actors.

Still, some things were the same. Toothy ladies in fleeces, whose cats were probably missing them at home, waved Justice for Johnny placards and shouted their support. In London, fans just used the bottoms of cardboard boxes to fashion their signs. Here in America, they make more of an effort with nice craft paper and coloured pens, although the essential folly of their well-meaning endeavour is identical.

They have made the pilgrimage to this courthouse based on nothing more than the fact that they liked Edward Scissorhands or perhaps fancied Jack Sparrow. ‘We know Johnny, he is innocent,’ they cry, these simple fools lost in love.

Celebrity warps everything, a fact never better encapsulated than by this preposterous multi-million dollar Hollywood drama now playing out in the court of public opinion, as both stars shamelessly jockey for position.

On Monday we saw a brief glimpse of them, separately flitting in and out of court and cars like grey wraiths – both wearing three piece suits, as smart and fresh as bellboys.

Amber Heard is seen in court giving a woman a hug before opening statements begin

Amber Heard is seen in court giving a woman a hug before opening statements begin

Amber Heard is seen in court giving a woman a hug before opening statements begin 

If you did not know them you could never have guessed at the gothic undertow of their life together; the smashed glasses, the bruises, the unspeakable bed sheets, the dogs, the drugs, the degeneracy. One of Heard’s lawyers made the new allegation that Depp wrote ‘terrible things’ on lampshades and sometimes attempted to ‘write with urine’.

Johnny Depp has been described as a renaissance man before, and there really seems to be no end to his unlikely talents.

Two years on since I last saw them when reporting from the court in London, life has moved on for everyone else but for them. They are like a pair of scorpions, locked in this dance of death, repeatedly injecting each other with venom.

It is rather a blow for romance that they have been at war for longer than they were ever in love; their curdled timeline reveals they started dating in 2012, married in 2015 and called it quits the following year when she filed for divorce.

Back on Court TV, Ted Rowlands introduced legal correspondent Chanley Painter, who pointed out that unlike the UK case, a jury will decide here, not a judge. ‘Johnny’s appeal among fans could be a factor,’ she said.

Chanley then wheeled out a number of legal experts, none of whom seemed to think Depp has a cat’s chance in a frozen hell of winning. Someone called George Freeman explained: ‘It is going to be a stretch to ask a jury to believe that she made it all up and was not abused at all, that is a hard burden (of proof) to meet.’ Any viewers still confused can tune in to Vinnie Politan and his show Closing Arguments each night from 8 till 11 during the trial.

This photo shown in court from May 2016 of Amber Heard with an apparently bruised cheek, which has been referred to as an exhibit

This photo shown in court from May 2016 of Amber Heard with an apparently bruised cheek, which has been referred to as an exhibit

Another photo shown to court shows a mark below her eye in an alleged attack Heard claims was her ex-husband's final act or violence towards her

Another photo shown to court shows a mark below her eye in an alleged attack Heard claims was her ex-husband’s final act or violence towards her

Three hours! Fox News anchor Daytona Everett was worried it was going to be a ‘he said/she said situation because a lot of these instances are behind closed doors with not a ton of evidence, right?’

Her legal analyst Randy Zelin said of Johnny Depp what everyone except Johnny Depp must be thinking: ‘Hey Johnny, didn’t you lose in the UK? Wait a second. How could you possibly be going to trial now?’ For Randy and Daytona and Chanley and the gang, that is the great mystery.

But just like the Manson Family parole hearings and the infamous California V OJ Simpson, every tear and tantrum of this court case will be served up as an entertainment over the coming weeks.

And if the trial in London was anything to go by, expect gavel-to-gavel coverage of navel-to-navel gazing unlike anything you have ever seen or heard before.

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