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Movie Academy Invites 271 New Members

Movie Academy Invites 271 New MembersThe Oscar organization has unveiled its annual invitees list for 2014. Check out the release below:

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014. “This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”

The 2014 invitees are:

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James Schamus Honored By Outfest

By | Tuesday June 24, 2014 @ 9:25am PDT
Mike Fleming

James Schamus Honored By OutfestWhile the exit of James Schamus from Focus Features was abrupt and unceremonious, his taste for tolerance hasn’t been forgotten. Outfest, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen, will present Schamus with the 18th annual Outfest Achievement Award for a body of films including Brokeback Mountain, Milk and others. It’s the group’s highest honor and will be presented prior to the Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival’s Opening Night Gala screening of Life Partners on July 10 at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. Read More »

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Felix Gomez Joins ABC Family Pilot ‘Stitchers’; James McDaniel In ‘Hysteria’

By | Wednesday May 21, 2014 @ 11:08am PDT

Spanish actor felizgomez1Felix Gomez has landed a series regular role on ABC Family drama pilot Stitchers. Written by Jeffrey A. Schechter (Overruled), Stitchers follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave. Gomez, repped by SDB Partners and Symington Talent Management, will play college professor Dr. Jerome Smallwood, who teaches a grad course in computer science, in which Kirsten and her roommate, Camille, are students. Smallwood is smart and good at his job, but he’s no match for Kirsten, who can out-hack him and out-think him.
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Queen Latifah To Play Blues Icon Bessie Smith In HBO Films Biopic From Dee Rees, Lili & Richard Zanuck

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 12:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Queen Latifah Bessie Smith MoviebetsysmithHBO has greenlighted its next high-profile longform project, a film about iconic blues singer Bessie Smith who will be portrayed by Queen Latifah. Written and directed by Dee Rees, the filmmaker behind the Sundance- and Indie Spirit Award-winning Pariah, the untitled film chronicles how Smith overcame her tempestuous personal life to become one of the most acclaimed performing and recording artists of the 1920s and ’30s, earning the hbofilmsnickname Empress of the Blues. The project, produced by HBO Films in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and Lili and Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Company, is based on the life story of Smith and the biography Bessie written by Chris Albertson. The Oscar-winning duo of Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck executive produce with Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel, while Hallie Foote serves as co-executive producer and Ron Schmidt as producer.

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Joel David Moore To Direct Euthanasia Road Trip Pic ‘Youth In Oregon’

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 3:00pm PDT

Joel David MooreEXCLUSIVE: Avatar actor Joel David Moore is set to direct comedic drama Youth In Oregon, about a man who must drive his 80-year-old father-in-law cross country to be euthanized. It’ll mark Moore’s third feature behind the camera after his 2007 thriller Spiral and the upcoming comedy Killing Winston Jones starring Richard Dreyfuss. Youth In Oregon is scripted by Andrew Eisen and will be produced by Stefan Nowicki, Joey Carey and Morgan White for Sundial Pictures, whose recent films include Obvious Child, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and Pariah. Moore recently starred in ABC pilot Forever and in Adam Wingard’s Sundance pic The Guest. He has a recurring role on Bones and next stars on the big screen in Sony thriller Grace. Moore is repped by ICM Partners, which is also repping domestic sales on Youth In Oregon, as well as Underground and Nelson, Davis, Wetzstein, LLP.

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Tribeca Film Festival Jurors Announced

Tribeca 2014 marqueeThe judges are set for 13th annual edition of the event founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. The seven competition juries for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival include 33 filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, journalists and entrepreneurs. The World Narrative Competition judges are Lake Bell, Steve Conrad, Bart Freundlich, Catherine Hardwicke and Ben Younger. Jurors for other categories include Toni Collette, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Alfonso Arau, Heather Graham, Anton Yelchin, HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Google’s Regina Dugan. The Nas rap docu Time Is Illmatic will open the fest, which runs April 16-27 in NYC. The recently re-retitled Begin Again closes it. Here is the full list of jurors and categories:

Related:
Tribeca Film Festival Unveils Competition Slate
MSG Entering Into Strategic Deal With Tribeca Enterprises

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Sony TV Presidents Of Programming Zack Van Amburg & Jamie Erlicht Ink New Deals

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 3:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

erlichtvanamburg copyThe importance of Sony Pictures Television within Sony Pictures Entertainment has been on the rise. Last fall, Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corp. of America, announced a significant company shift “in emphasis from motion pictures to higher-margin television.” The company’s TV division was untouched by the recent company-wide cuts. And now its leadership has been secured for the next few years. After Steve Mosko signed a new long-term contract as president of Sony Pictures Television a year and a half ago, his top lieutenants, presidents of U.S. programming and production Jamie Erlicht and sptZack Van Amburg, too have re-upped with the company. I hear their new contracts are for three years, taking the duo to a decade at the helm of Sony TV’s primetime operations. Van Amburg and Erlicht were young, home-grown executives at an SVP level when Mosko picked them to succeed Russ Krasnoff in the top TV programming position in 2005. “What Zack and Jamie have accomplished is nothing short of amazing,” said Mosko. “I’ve always believed in them and they’ve become the best in the business.” Read More »

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A Journalist’s Plea On 10th Anniversary Of ‘The Passion Of The Christ’: Hollywood, Take Mel Gibson Off Your Blacklist

By | Tuesday March 11, 2014 @ 2:48pm PDT

How ironic is it that Hollywood studios walk on eggshells with faith-based groups hoping their religious epics like Noah do a fraction of the business Mel Gibson did with The Passion Of The Christ, while those studios continue to shun Gibson like a leper? What better way to commemorate Passion‘s 10th anniversary than journalist Allison Hope Weiner‘s examination of her relationship with Gibson and how it evolved from harsh coverage to the point where she feels strongly enough about his good qualities and recovery to urge Hollywood to consider giving him another chance. Weiner has written about Gibson for Deadline before, as well as The New York Times and other national magazines. – MF 

Mel Gibson CareerIt has been a decade since Mel Gibson made The Passion Of The Christ and watched it become the biggest-grossing independent film with $612 million in worldwide ticket sales. In the years that followed, Gibson made several comments that went public, made him seem anti-Semitic and racist. They made him persona non grata at major studios and agencies, the same ones that work with others who’ve committed felonies and done things far more serious than Gibson, who essentially used his tongue as a lethal weapon. As a journalist who vilified Gibson in The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly until my coverage allowed me to get to know him, I want to make the case here that it is time for those Hollywood agencies and studios to end their quiet blacklisting of Mel Gibson. Once Hollywood’s biggest movie star whose film Braveheart won five Oscars and whose collective box office totals $3.6 billion, Gibson hasn’t been directly employed by a studio since Passion Of The Christ was released in 2004.

The Gibson I’ve come to know isn’t a man who’ll shout from the rooftops that he’s not anti-Semitic, or hold a press conference to tell media those audiotapes were released as part of a shakedown, and that he never assaulted the mother of his infant daughter. He won’t explain to people that he first got himself into a career spiral because he’s a long struggling alcoholic who fell off the wagon and spewed hateful anti-Semitic remarks to an arresting officer who was Jewish. He won’t tell you that he’s still got a lot to offer Hollywood as a filmmaker.

The fact that he won’t jump to his own defense is part of his problem, but also part of why I have grown to respect him. That is why on the occasion of this 10th anniversary of Passion, a film about an innocent man’s willingness to forgive the greatest injustice, I propose to Hollywood that it’s time to forgive Mel Gibson. He has been in the doghouse long enough. It’s time to give the guy another chance. Read More »

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Tom Cavanagh Joins CW’s ‘The Flash’

By | Monday February 10, 2014 @ 5:45pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

cavanaughTom Cavanagh (Ed) is the latest addition to the CW pilot The Flash, based on the DC comic. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Berlanti Productions, is an origin story about Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin), a Central City assistant police forensics investigator who arrives in Starling to look into a series of unexplained robberies that may have a connection to a tragedy in his past. Cavanagh will play Harrison Wells, a rock star in the world of physics and the mind and money behind Central City’s S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator. He becomes a pariah after the lab’s explosion, but he charts his path to redemption when he discovers that his failed experiment had the unintended consequence of creating the world’s fastest man.

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WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards; ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Veep’ & ‘House Of Cards’ Score On TV Side

By | Saturday February 1, 2014 @ 5:49pm PST

WGA Award WinnersUPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS: The 66th annual WGA Awards were handed out tonight in “simultaneous” ceremonies on both coasts — the WGA West is at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE and the WGA East at the Edison Ballroom. Like last year, the NY crew announced its main awards well ahead of the LA ceremony. In the end, Billy Ray was the somewhat surprising winner of the Adapted Screenplay award for Sony’s Captain Phillips while Spike Jonze took the Original Screenplay honor for Warner Bros’ Her. If the time snafu sounds familiar it is; last year the LA event lagged NYC’s by almost an hour, meaning award winners were being announced first by WGAE and then trickled into the WGAW audience to ruin the suspense. Tonight, word began filtering into the JW Marriott of the main winners about 2 hours into the show. Ray and Jonze, who were in LA, came to the podium a good 40+ minutes after their awards were unveiled at the Edison and pretended to look surprised — all of the final big awards seemed to lose steam as most in the room new the winners.

2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony - InsideOn the TV side, Breaking Bad won both the Best Drama and Episodic Drama categories for the second time in three years and the third consecutive Best Drama trophy for the series’ final installment. House Of Cards picked up the first WGA Award for Netflix, taking the New Series honor. The streaming service led the network pack this year with six nominations as the guild amended its rules this year to allow eligibility for Netflix series that have been produced for initial exhibition in New Media. Veep won its first major series award with its Comedy Series win tonight over the likes of Modern Family, which was looking to take back the crown after losing last year to FX’s Louie.  The fellow HBO comedy Veep launched, Girls, won the New Series award last year.

Related: WGA Awards: Writers Hopeful As They Head Into Contract Negotiations With Producers

2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony - Inside“Every writer deserves the kind of luck I’ve had. I owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips,” said Ray, who was also nominated for an Oscar. “Capt. Phillps wrote this story, I just wrote it down.” The feature film competition this year was almost as interesting for what’s not in the running vs. what is. The most notable absences were Oscar Adapted Screenplay favorite John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave and fellow nominees Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena – the guild only includes screenplays that were produced under its signatory agreements. Ray’s win probably vaults him into the conversation with 12 Years.

2014 Writers Guild Awards L.A. Ceremony - InsideSaid Jonze, also an Oscar nominee:  ”This is a high honor coming from the Writers Guild. … It’s a high honor coming from writers. In a way this is like an award for pain. A specfic pain that writers know. The highs and lows of sitting there by yourself. I thank you guys for that.”

Related: 2014 WGA Award Nominations

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Writers Guild Awards Sets Presenters For NY Show

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 8:50am PST

wganew__130204201842NEW YORK, NY (JANUARY 22, 2014) – An incredible line-up of presenters has been confirmed for the 66th annual Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

This year, awards will be presented by an eclectic mix of writers, producers and actors, including Fred Armisen (Portlandia), Robert Carlock (30 Rock), Raúl Esparza (Law & Order: SVU), Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is The New Black), Lawrence O’Donnell (The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell), Steve O’Donnell (Late Show with David Letterman), Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Frank Rich (Veep), Keri Russell (The Americans), Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Beau Willimon (House of Cards).

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Steven Spielberg, Javier Bardem, Steve Zaillian Circle Montezuma-Cortez Epic From Script By Blacklisted Writer Dalton Trumbo

Mike Fleming

Steven SpielbergEXCLUSIVE: One of the most compelling movie questions coming into 2014 is, what film will Steven Spielberg direct? I don’t know if this is next or far down the line, but here is a tantalizing possibility: I’m told that he has his sights on Montezuma, an epic tale of the kinship and ultimately the bloody collision between Montezuma and Cortez as the latter led the Spanish infiltration into Mexico. I’ve heard that Javier Bardem has sparked to playing the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, and that the catalyst here is a nearly 50-year old script by Dalton Trumbo that is being rewritten by Steve Zaillian, who teamed with Spielberg on the Oscar-winning Schindler’s List.

Zaillian is boarding this project as producer, likely alongside Spielberg and his DreamWorks team. The rights are now controlled by DreamWorks, but Zaillian’s first look deal is at Fox and I don’t know if a team-up there is in the works. Zaillian is currently producing the Moses epic Exodus for Fox, with Ridley Scott directing Christian Bale in the lead role.

"Skyfall" Royal World Premiere - ArrivalsThis project could be retitled Cortez, since the viewpoint will be from the latter character to be played by fellow Spaniard Bardem. The project, considered one of the great unmade scripts in moviedom, has an illustrious history. Trumbo wrote it for actor/producer Kirk Douglas, with whom he did the classics Spartacus and Lonely Are the Brave. Trumbo turned in a 205-page draft in 1965, when Martin Ritt was supposed to direct Douglas in the film. It never happened. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Home Ent. Boss David Bishop Departing

By | Wednesday December 18, 2013 @ 10:13am PST

DavidBishopBREAKING: David Bishop, president of Sony‘s Home Entertainment division, is leaving when his current contract expires in March, the company said today. No replacement has been named, but it’s the latest big move at Sony. The company has been making news of late with its restructuring activities in the Sony Pictures Entertainment realm that includes a renewed focus on its TV biz while paring down its annual film slate after weak results on the movie side. Sony Pictures Home EntertainmentThat revamp includes swapping out marketing chief Marc Weinstock for digital marketing head Dwight Caines and the departure of longtime Sony Pictures media relations topper Steve Elzer. “During his tenure, David played a tremendous role in building the home entertainment organization we have in place today: an innovative business that can compete aggressively in the evolving digital marketplace.” SPE boss Michael Lynton said today. “We appreciate his many contributions to the company and wish him well with his future endeavors.” Read More »

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From Pariah To Company MVP: The Quiet Rise Of Sony’s TV Division

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 5:40pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

In October 2001, then-Sony Corp of America CEO Howard Stringer declared that the network production business “doesn’t make any sense anymore,” effectively closing the studio’s primetime TV division, Columbia TriStar Television. Overall deals were dissolved, executives were let go, and the development slate was trashed in a move Sony projected would save it more that $100 million a year. Sony‘s syndication TV chief Steve Mosko was tapped to head a stripped-down TV unit, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television (renamed Sony Pictures TV in 2002), which consisted primarily of syndication/daytime and modest international operations.

Related: Sony Pictures To Shift Emphasis From Movies To TV

Today, 12 years later, Stringer’s successor Michael Lynton announced that the company will make “a significant shift in emphasis from motion pictures to higher-margin television.” This is Sony’s biggest public acknowledgement to date of the growing significance of its TV business, which has been rapidly expanding during the past decade, mainly under the radar. Sony does not separate its movie and TV revenues, but it has been well known that TV has contributed well over 50% of Sony Entertainment’s operating income for the past couple of years, with some indicating that the TV group’s contribution may be over 60%, especially with the film division going through a rough time. While there have been profit stalwarts, like Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Days Of Our Lives, The Young & The Restless and the Seinfeld off-network rights, there also have been new areas of growth. The biggest revenue driver has been Sony’s international TV networks, which have expanded to 127 channels in 150 countries, up from 78 and 83 a decade ago.

Related:
Sony TV Execs Talk Up Global Opportunities
Sony Pictures TV, Simon Andreae Launch UK Prod’n Outfit Scarlet Media

As the biggest profit generator likely for the entire Sony Entertainment, the international network group is likely to get the lion’s share of the additional resources the company will be committing to its TV operations, to go toward new investments and growing the existing channels. But TV production also is expected to get a boost. After the bloodbath of 2001, it took awhile for Sony to get back in the network business. The studio took a different approach than the one that got it into financial trouble in the first place — signing a lot of pricey overall deals and spending a ton on development and pilots to support them with little to show for it in terms of on-air series. Burned by the volume network business, Sony forged its way into the then-uncharted world of basic cable original programming with FX’s The Shield, which it distributed internationally, Rescue Me, Damages and Justified and AMC’s Breaking Bad. It gradually returned to network TV with modest hits such as Rules Of Engagement and Community.

Related: Sony CEO: Entertainment Is “Crucial” To Company
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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up with the top film stories you missed this week:

OSCARS: Why Michael Fassbender’s Refusal To Campaign Likely Won’t Matter
By Pete Hammond - Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds.

Tom Hanks Retraces A Life In Pictures, Talks Pitfalls Of Comedy & Freedom From Self-Consciousness At BAFTA Event
By Nancy Tartaglione - Tom Hanks was in London on Saturday to spend an evening with BAFTA. The British Academy’s Life In Pictures series is a walk through an actor or director’s career – Hanks’ this evening lasted two hours, which, considering his resumé, wasn’t nearly enough time to touch on every film.

Oren Aviv Exited As Chief Movie Marketing Officer At 20th Century Fox
By Nikki Finke - EXCLUSIVE: There’s yet another shake-up inside a major Hollywood studio. I’ve learned that Thursday will be the last day for 20th Century Fox Chief Marketing Officer Oren Aviv at Twentieth Century Fox even though his contract had another 18 months to go.

Tony Sella Not Out Yet At Fox Film – But Decision Day Is Monday
By Mike Fleming Jr. - Might 20th Century Fox Film chief creative officer Tony Sella be soon following marketing chief Oren Aviv out the door? Read More »

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Dee Rees To Adapt Philip K. Dick’s ‘Martian Time-Slip’

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 9:59am PDT

Spirit Award-winner Dee Rees (Pariah) has been set to adapt Martian Time-Slip, Philip K. Dick‘s 1964 sci-fi novel centered on a schizophrenic repairman living in a human colony on Mars. Rees will write the pic as a directorial project for herself with Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of Philip K. Dick, producing for Electric Shepherd Productions. The shingle run by Dick’s children previously produced 2011′s The Adjustment Bureau and is in development on Disney’s animated adaptation King of the Elves, Michel Gondry-helmed Ubik, and Electric Ant to be directed by Marc Forster. Rees is repped by WME and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. Victoria Cook negotiated the deal on Rees’ behalf with Christopher Tricarico repping the Dick estate and Electric Shepherd.

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Harper Lee Settles ‘Mockingbird’ Royalties Suit With Literary Agent

By | Friday September 6, 2013 @ 3:15pm PDT

Atticus Finch didn’t give a stirring courtroom speech but the lawyers seem to have worked out an end to Harper Lee’s latest lawsuit over To Kill A Mockingbird’s copyright and royalties anyway. A settlement has been reached between the Pulitzer-winning author and her former literary agent Samuel Pinkus, sources confirm. The paperwork and a filing to formally dismiss the federal case as well as a related state court case is expected early next week. In a filing on September 5, (read it here), journalist Gerald Posner and Pinkus’ spouse Leigh Ann Winick were dismissed as defendants in the case. This is the beginning of the end of a curious legal battle whose latest round started in the spring. In May, the 87-year old Lee filed a complaint in NY federal court, alleging that in 2002 Pinkus used the declining health of his father-in-law and Lee’s longtime agent Eugene Winick to take control of the affairs of McIntosh & Otis agency clients like the Mockingbird author. Lee also claimed that Pinkus then took advantage of a stroke she suffered back in 2007 and the fact that she was already partially deaf to trick her into signing over the copyright to her 1960 modern classic for nothing. He then supposedly slipped the work through various companies so it would be hard for Lee to legally find and to collect royalties. Read More »

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Cannes: Cassian Elwes, Robert Ogden Barnum Launch e2b Capital

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 17, 2013) – It was announced today that independent film producers Cassian Elwes and Robert Ogden Barnum have launched e2b Capital, a new entertainment company for independent filmmakers and financiers seeking financing and global distribution expertise.

Elwes and Barnum will serve as co-heads of the Los Angeles-based operation. Backed by a growing group of financiers, e2b will arrange financing for commercially viable, fiscally responsible independent films. Working collaboratively with producers, talent agencies and foreign sales companies, e2b offers equity, gap and debt solutions through strategic partnerships, in addition to bringing strong relationships in the global marketplace. e2b expects to work on 10-12 films annually.

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‘Mockingbird’ Writer Harper Lee Sues To Regain Pulitzer-Winning Novel’s Copyright

By | Saturday May 4, 2013 @ 6:00am PDT

One of American literature’s greatest courtroom dramas is generating some legal theater of its own. To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee is suing her former lit agent’s son-in-law, Samuel Pinkus, and companies he allegedly started for failing to protect the Pulitzer-winning novel’s copyright. Lee, 87, alleges that Pinkus took advantage of her failing eyesight and hearing and assigned the copyright to himself and a firm he operated after his father-in-law, Eugene Winick — who had repped Lee since the book’s publication in 1960 — became ill 10 years ago. The author, who lives in rural Alabama, filed suit in Manhattan federal court and is seeking return of the copyright and unspecified damages. The 1962 movie adaptation of Mockingbird was nominated for Best Picture and seven other Academy Awards and won three, To Kill A Mockingbird, Gregory Peck, Harper Leeincluding Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s legendary performance as Atticus Finch. The lawyer who becomes a pariah in his small Southern town as defends a black man accused of raping a white woman was hailed by the AFI in 2003 as the greatest film hero of all time. Last year President Obama introduced the film before a 50th anniversary screening at the White House.

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