Johnny Depp said ex-wife Amber Heard had made "sick" claims of abuse and falsely branded him a monster, as the actor testified in a U.K. libel case that hinges on who was the aggressor in the celebrity couple's violent, toxic relationship.

Depp is suing British tabloid the Sun over an April 2018 story headlined "Potty — How can JK Rowling be 'genuinely happy' casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?" The newspaper's lawyers plan to use Heard's allegations of abuse by Depp to defend the "wife beater" claim.

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star strongly denies Heard's claims that he assaulted her during their tempestuous marriage, and he is suing the Sun's publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton.

"These sick claims are totally untrue," Depp said in a written witness statement, adding that Heard's allegations hurt his career and had "been a constant issue in my casting."

A three-week trial over his libel claims opened Tuesday at the High Court in London. It is one of the first major cases to be held in person since Britain began to lift its coronavirus lockdown.

Simon & Schuster names senior VP

Dana Canedy will take on one of the biggest roles at Simon & Schuster. The New York-based publishing house announced that Canedy has been named as senior vice president and publisher of the imprint — the first African American to hold the position. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist will begin her new role on July 27. "I look forward to leading the storied Simon & Schuster flagship imprint, a publishing powerhouse that has long produced some of the most important and impactful books in our culture," Canedy said in a statement.

LETOURNEAU DIES: Mary Kay Letourneau, who made national headlines in 1997 when she became pregnant with the child of her then-13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, has died of cancer, according to reports. Her longtime friend and attorney, Anne Bremner, announced her death late Tuesday. After the couple's affair was made public, Letourneau, a former teacher in Seattle, went to prison for nearly eight years and gave birth to two of Vili's daughters, one of which was born behind bars. Vili was just 15 years old when their second child was born. The couple married in 2005, after her release from prison.

'Hamilton' high: Walt Disney's new Disney+ streaming app was downloaded more than half a million times over the weekend after the service's July 3 premiere of a filmed version of the musical "Hamilton." The $7-a-month Disney+ generated 513,323 new mobile downloads worldwide from Friday to Sunday, including 266,084 in the U.S., according to the market research firm Apptopia. Disney paid a reported $75 million for the film, which was shot with the original cast in 2016. The musical is based on the life of the nation's first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton. The total number of downloads is certainly higher. The Apptopia tally represents mobile only, and doesn't include people who acquired the app via the Disney website or on TV-linked devices.

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