The Oscar winner and the contractor

March 30, 2009 9:14:51 PM PDT
Hollywood Legend Patricia Neal knows how to handle men.

She's co-starred with some of the biggest names in the business: John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Paul Newman.

But there's one man whose performance has this leading lady angry.

"This is the only bad man I've ever run in to. He's really a horror," Neal said.

And woe to the man who makes Ms. Neal mad.

Contractor George Trapatsas agreed more than a year ago to remodel Ms. Neal's east-side bathroom at a cost of $30-thousand dollars. In this e-mail last January to Neal's daughter, the contractor states, "It will take me 3 to 4 weeks to complete."

"Up here you can see this enormous gaping hole, you see pipes, electrical lines," Jeanai Radcliffe, Neal's Assistant, said as she showed us that, 15 months later, the bathroom is still not finished.

"This drawer is ridiculous. It's not even an even shape. It's cheap material," she said.

The cost has nearly doubled to almost $50-thousand dollars for a closet-sized bathroom.

"There's hardware sticking out where she can trip and she's a stroke survivor and has a problem with her right leg, drop boot. The whole reason we did this was to make life easier and safer and it's anything but," Radcliffe said.

"Look at it now. It's a year and it's not even finished. Not even finished," Neal said.

We tried to get the contractor's side of the story, although he seemed a bit camera shy.

We wanted to know why would it take 15 months and counting to complete a tiny bathroom. After all, it only took a little more than two years to build the new Yankee stadium.

CONTRACTOR: Not right now.
REPORTER: Why not?
CONTRACTOR: We're trying to resolve this issue.
REPORTER: But why is it taking so long?
CONTRACTOR: It's not taking so long we're trying to resolve this issue because we had a carpenter who didn't finish his work.
REPORTER: Wait a second, it's taken almost 12 months to do it, almost 12 months to finish a bathroom?
CONTRACTOR: No, it's taken quite a bit of time...
REPORTER: Are you one of those contractors...(slams the door)

The contractor says Ms. Neal made some changes in the middle of the project which set it back. He also claims a bad subcontractor caused further delays. Neal says for all his excuses, give him an Academy Award:

"Oh yes, charming. The most charming man you'll ever meet, yes. I hope you're not fooled," Neal said.

Even through the loss of a child and later a stroke, Ms. Neal always fulfilled her studio contracts. That's all she's asking from her builder:

"You're dead right. All I'm asking him to do is to honor this contract," Neal said.

Several years ago, the Department of Consumer Affairs suspended the contractor's license. That didn't stop him, though. He's back in business now as "T and L Home Improvements."