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Jury will only see edited version of Hulk Hogan sex tape

Hulk Hogan, center, talks with his attorneys Thursday morning in the courtroom before the start of his sex tape trial at the Pinellas County Courthouse in St Petersburg. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued Gawker in 2012 after the website published an excerpt of the video. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Hulk Hogan, center, talks with his attorneys Thursday morning in the courtroom before the start of his sex tape trial at the Pinellas County Courthouse in St Petersburg. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued Gawker in 2012 after the website published an excerpt of the video. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Mar. 17, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — A judge Thursday denied Gawker Media's request to play for a jury the full 30-minute Hulk Hogan sex tape.

Attorneys for Gawker had hoped to show jurors the original video they received in late Sept. 2012 that showed the former wrestler having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, Tampa DJ Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. They have argued that because Gawker didn't publish the entire video, the website's editors acted responsibly by only showing clips that emphasized the writer's point about the banality of celebrity sex tapes.

Rather than posting all the footage, Gawker editors winnowed it down to a one-minute and 41-second excerpt, of which nine seconds showed actual sex. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued over the video, arguing it violated his privacy, and demanded $100 million. The case could go to the jury as early as Friday.

That highlight reel, which was watched by some 2.5 million people online, is all that jurors will be allowed to see. And they will not watch it in the courtroom, as had been previously discussed, but will see it in the jury room when they break for deliberations.

The 30-minute sex tape "is not related to...the excerpts published on Gawker," or to the fundamental question of whether those excerpts were newsworthy, said Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell.

Campbell also raised questions about the 30-minute video's "authenticity." Former Gawker.com editor A.J. Daulerio testified earlier that he received the DVD in the mail from an anonymous source, whose identity has never been revealed.

On Thursday morning, jurors were shown excerpts of Bollea's videotaped depositions.

In one clip, the former wrestler was asked whether he was embarrassed by a 2013 TV advertisement for a web-hosting company in which he swung on a wrecking ball wearing nothing more than a t-shirt, boots, and a T-back style thong.

'It was kind of embarrassing," Bollea said. "But I had only three people in the room with me when I sat on the wrecking ball with a T-back on."

He noted that while he had agreed to appear in the commercial, the sex tape that was sent to Gawker was made without his knowledge or consent.

In his deposition, Bollea said that it was not really him viewers watched on that wrecking ball, but his character Hulk Hogan.

"It's an advertisement for a promotional piece in character," he said. "It's not Terry Bollea at all."

Contact Anna M. Phillips at aphillips@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354. Follow @annamphillips.

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