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‘Suburgatory’ Creator Emily Kapnek Sued By Gotham Group Over Unpaid Commissions

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 6:02pm PST

The ABC  comedy series’ creator has been hit with a breach-of-contract and fraud suit by her former manager. In a suit filed today in LA Superior Court (read it here), The Gotham Group‘s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein claims that Emily Kapnek stopped paying commissions after the Suburgatory creator signed a two-year overall deal with the series’ producer Warner Bros. TV in April.

Goldsmith-Vein says in the lawsuit that she had managed Kapnek’s career starting in 1999, after having been her agent the year before, and had always received her 10%. But Goldsmith-Vein claims that after Kapnek landed her first overall deal this spring, she “reached a point where she believed she was self-reliant, discarded plaintiffs, and broke her word and the parties’ contract. In direct violation of the Gotham Management Agreement and her promise to plaintiffs, Kapnek has failed to make any further commission payments at all to plaintiffs, whether related to Suburgatory, the Warner Bros Deal or any other matter, and plaintiffs fear that future breaches will be forthcoming.”
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Fox Searchlight Requests Fast Appeal In ‘Black Swan’ Intern Lawsuit

Just under two months after they took their first swipe at getting the judgment against them and a class action in the Black Swan interns’ case reversed, Fox Searchlight and the Fox Entertainment Group have hit back again. In filings late last week, Fox asked a federal judge for formal permission for an “immediate appeal” to his potentially industry game changing June 11 ruling that unpaid interns on the 2010 Darren Aronofsky-directed film were really employees. “The Order meets all of the statutory requirements for certification, and the circumstances of this case are very much in keeping with other cases in which courts — including this Court — have granted certification for immediate, interlocutory appeal. The Court should therefore grant Defendants’ motion and allow the Second Circuit to provide much-needed guidance on the issues raised in the Order,” said the memo (read it here) filed on August 23 in U.S. District Court in New York. If certified by Judge William Paley III, the appeal would head to the Second Circuit. Primary plaintiffs Alex Footman and Eric Glatt first launched their civil action case back in September 2011 on behalf of themselves and more than 100 Fox Searchlight interns. Read More »

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Marty Singer Escapes Extortion Claim From Former ‘Big Brother’ Contestant

By | Wednesday July 17, 2013 @ 6:42am PDT

Heavyweight Hollywood attorney Marty Singer’s infamous blistering letters on behalf of his clients won’t be changing their tune or tone anytime soon thanks to a trio of judges on a California Court of Appeal. Yesterday the Second District overturned a trial court’s ruling over a 2011 letter from Singer to former Big Brother contestant Mike Malin accusing him of embezzlement over $1 million from a client and promising to reveal the money was spent on sexual dalliances. “Singer’s demand letter is a protected speech or petitioning activity under the anti-SLAPP statute,” wrote Justice Steven C. Suzukawa for the panel Tuesday (read it here). The Second District panel consisted of Justices Nora M. Manella, Thomas L. Willhite Jr. and Suzukawa. Malin, who coutersued over the litigator’s letter, appeared on Season 2 of the reality show. He was accused by Singer’s client Shereene Arazam of stealing funds from her restaurant. “The order denying the special motion to strike Malin’s complaint is reversed in part as to the first cause of action for extortion, and affirmed in part as to the second cause of action for invasion of privacy and the third and fourth causes of action for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The matter is remanded with directions to the superior court to grant the special motion to strike the first … Read More »

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Fox Searchlight Goes On The Offensive In ‘Black Swan’ Intern Lawsuit

By | Tuesday June 25, 2013 @ 6:59pm PDT

Fox Searchlight said it was going to try to get the June 11 judgment against it and for a class action in the Black Swan Interns case reversed, and today it started that effort. Aiming to carve up the order, the company filed a motion of partial reconsideration (read it here) Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York. A motion that said the court didn’t really know what it was talking about. “The Court’s Order adopted plaintiff’s proposed class and collective definitions, without apparent consideration of the undisputed facts that Fox Group and Fox Interactive Media (‘FIM’) are not and never have been subsidiaries or divisions of FEG or Searchlight,” said the memorandum of support accompanying the motion. Primary plaintiffs Alex Footman and Eric Glatt first launched their civil action case back in September 2011 on behalf of themselves and more than 100 Fox Searchlight interns.

With this procedural move, Fox Searchlight and Fox Entertainment Group took a strategic swipe at Judge William Paley III’s order earlier this month granting Footman and Glatt a summary judgment that they were treated as Fox employees in their internship under the definitions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law. At the time, the judge also certified a class action that will look at the way the intern programs at Fox really work and whether they actually provide educational experience. The Fox entities today also want to limit the time period in which potential class action participants can be considered qualified to join the suit. Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘NCIS’ Creator “Gratified” To Reach Settlement With CBS

By | Friday January 18, 2013 @ 10:17am PST

UPDATE, 10:17 AM: Having reached a confidential settlement today in their multimillion-dollar lawsuit over profits from NCIS: LA, CBS and NCIS creator Don Bellisario released a joint statement Friday:

“We’re pleased to settle this lawsuit on amicable terms and put this dispute to rest,” said David Stapf, President, CBS Television Studios. “Although we differed in opinion on this matter, our admiration, appreciation and respect for Mr. Bellisario has never wavered throughout. We consider him one of the best creative talents of his time and a valued member of the CBS family, whose shows, both past and present, have played an important role in CBS’s success.” Don Bellisario added, “I am also pleased that we were able to amicably resolve the lawsuit short of a trial.  I am gratified that CBS has recognized my contributions in creating JAG and NCIS.”

PREVIOUSLY, 10:08 AM: CBS Studios and Don Bellisario have come to a settlement in the producer’s multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the network for profits from NCIS: Los Angeles, Deadline has confirmed. The parties were scheduled to go to trial January 25. No details of the deal are known. Despite having made more than $116 million from his CBS shows over the years, the JAG and NCIS creator sued CBS in April 2011 over breach of contract and the covenant of good faith for profits from NCIS: LA. The legal battle revolved around conflicting definitions of what constitutes a “spinoff,” what kind of spinoff NCIS: LA is and which one of the three agreements the producer had with the studio is the basis for the dispute. Bellisario was let go from NCIS in 2007 after star Mark Harmon threatened to quit. Read More »

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Universal, Paramount, Fox & Sony Slapped With Class Action Suits Over Home Video Royalties

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 3:30pm PST

Four Hollywood studios today had class action lawsuits filed against them that allege the short changing of home video royalties. If successful, the suits could result in a multi-million dollar windfall for the plaintiffs. In nearly identical filings Wednesday in LA Superior Court, Paramount Pictures, Universal City Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment were taken to task for their practice of paying profit participants based on 20% of home entertainment revenues. Paramount and Universal were sued by director Colin Higgins over 1978’s Foul Play and 1982’s The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (read them here and hereThe trustee of Charles Bronson’s estate, Larry Martindale, sued Sony over 1975’s Hard Times (read it here) and Fox was sued by director Stanley Donen over 1975’s Lucky Lady (read it here). The dates of the films are important because the plaintiff’s argue in their filings that their contracts with the studios were made before the 20% figure became the industry standard in the early 1980s. In the plaintiff’s view, their contracts dictate that they should be receiving royalties from 100% of the home video revenue of their films. “Notwithstanding the 100% Gross Receipts Provision, SPE only includes 20% of the revenue generated by its own subsidiary/affiliate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, from Home Video distribution, when it reports income earned from … Read More »

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Legendary Pictures Sues To Remove ‘Godzilla’ Producers

By | Wednesday January 9, 2013 @ 5:03pm PST

Legendary Pictures today filed suit (read it here) against producers Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison to have them removed from the Godzilla reboot. The company also wants the court to order arbitration to stop a potential temporary restraining order by the defendants against the film’s production. The new Godzilla is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros and Legendary on May 16 2014. “This dispute…concerns Defendants’ assertion that they are entitled to substantial producing fees and backend compensation on the Film,” claims Legendary in the suit. Lin Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment are also named as defendants in the case.

Related: UPDATE: Mary Parent Boarding ‘Godzilla’, Which Is Getting A Frank Darabont Rewrite And Losing Roy Lee And Dan Lin

The complaint for Declaratory Relief filed in LA Superior Court Wednesday by The Dark Knight Rises and 300 producers claims that all is owed to the Warner Bros lot based Lin, Lee, Davison and their respective companies is $25,000 as agreed upon in the March 2011 Producer Loan Agreement the parties drafted. “Defendants would be entitled to certain backend compensation only if the Film were ‘produced substantially under the supervision’ of Defendants,” says Legendary in their suit. In their court documents, Legendary claims that it brought the trio on board soon after acquiring the rights to the Godzilla character from Japanese corporation Toho in March 2010. … Read More »

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Nu Image Sues Overture Films For Potential Millions Over “Sparse” Accounting

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 6:59pm PST

Nu Image today filed a lawsuit against shuttered Overture Films for what could be millions in unpaid proceeds from a trio of films. The films noted in the complaint (read it here) are 2010′s Brooklyn’s Finest, the 2008 Robert De Niro and Al Pacino movie Righteous Kill and 2008′s Mad Money starring Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah. Nu Image says that they and Brooklyn’s Finest Distribution inked deals with Overture for exclusive distribution rights for the films “in the United States and its territories for 20 years.” Noting that all three seemed to make good money theatrically and in home entertainment, the complaint alleges Breach of contract, the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Accounting and Declaratory Relief. Nu Image says that they have consistently received “sparse and oblique” participation statements from Overture and their then affiliate Starz Media. “Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and there on allege, that Defendant received or will  receive  monies,  property  or  other  benefits in  connection exploitation of the Licensed Pictures, of which a percentage is due to Plaintiffs. Read More »

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Nick Cassavetes Sued Over ‘Yellow’ Movie Loan, Casting & Producer Promise

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 5:25pm PST

Director Nick Cassavetes is being sued by two Canadian singers and their father for more than $500,000 over an alleged loan to the movie Yellow. In their complaint filed today (read it here) plaintiffs John Thomas and TwinSpin Music say that in September 2010, singers Carman and Camille Thomas met with the director in the Yellow production office in Studio City. However, they say the meeting took a wide turn with Cassavetes suggesting not just that the singers have a song on the soundtrack but roles in the movie and a producer credit for their father John. “However, there was one catch to Cassavetes’ pitch – namely, Cassavetes was in need of an immediate short term loan of $300,000 to be used for the development and production of the picture, which would be repaid with interest in the aggregate amount of $345,000 no later than October 15, 2010.  Accordingly, Cassavetes represented to “Carmen & Camille” that if TwinSpin would agree to provide the Loan, he would (a) cast “Carmen & Camille” in the speaking roles he had previously identified in the Picture, (b) feature at least one song by “Carmen & Camille” in the soundtrack of the Picture (the “Song”}, (c) provide plaintiff Thomas with a producer credit on the Picture, and (d) repay the Loan and interest in the aggregate amount of $345,000 no later than October 15, 2010,” claims the complaint.
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20th Century Fox TV Wins ‘Reba’ Producer Profits Case, Again

By | Wednesday October 24, 2012 @ 7:32pm PDT

Former Reba creator and showrunner Allison Gibson has been denied her claim on profits from the sitcom’s second season for a second time. California’s Second District Court of Appeal reaffirmed a trial judge’s decision that 20th Century Fox Television did not commit breach of contract by not paying Gibson a 25% vested share in Reba’s sophomore season’s revenues. The co-executive producer was let go from Reba in March 2002, two months before the show’s first season concluded. Gibson, who had a two-year contract that paid her a portion of Reba’s adjusted gross, charged in her initial October 28, 2011 suit against Fox that she was entitled to her vested shares in the second season because she was already working on season two when she was dismissed. The court disagreed. “The trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary adjudication on the ground that the contract was unambiguous and that Gibson was not entitled to any relief,” wrote the court. “Gibson argues that the contract was unambiguous and should be interpreted in her favor, and that alternatively, the contract was ambiguous so that there is a triable issue of fact. We affirm because the contract is not reasonably susceptible to Gibson’s interpretation, and is consistent with the trial court’s interpretation.” Starring singer Reba McEntire, Reba debuted October 5, 2001 on The WB. The show ran until 2007. Gibson has another case against 20th Century Fox Television claiming that she was … Read More »

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Film Financier David Bergstein Can’t Sue Aramid Over Former Lawyer, Judge Rules

By | Monday October 8, 2012 @ 11:12am PDT

In yet another legal setback for the producer and film financier, a judge has ruled that David Bergstein cannot sue the employers of his former lawyer Susan Tregub even if she did switch sides against him. “The fact that it is alleged that defendants aided and abetted Tregub does not change this into an action by a client against its attorney,” wrote Judge Michael Linfield (read ruling here) last Wednesday. As he has previously in other aspects of this case, Judge Linfield last week also agreed with Aramid that their interaction and discussions with Bergstein’s former in-house counsel were protected by litigation privilege. ”It’s a technical pleading issue, the case is not dismissed and we have no expectation that the case will be dismissed,” Bergstein lawyer Alex Weingarten told Deadline today. “We will file an amended complaint.” Bergstein has 30 days to file a newly amended complaint in the matter. While not unexpected due to a tentative decision the judge released earlier last week along the same lines, this is the latest in a series of twists in defendant Aramid Entertainment and plaintiff Bergstein’s various lawsuits related to the producer’s 2010 bankruptcy.

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Red Granite Pictures & Producer End ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Lawsuits

The multiple legal disputes between producers over credit on the upcoming Martin Scorsese-directed The Wolf Of Wall Street are over. Red Granite Pictures and Alexandra Milchan issued the following statement today:

Los Angeles, CA – October 3, 2012 – It was announced today that Red Granite Pictures and Alexandra Milchan have settled their legal dispute over the much anticipated film “The Wolf of Wall Street” and dismissed their respective lawsuits against one another.
Red Granite Pictures owns the rights to Jordan Belfort’s best-selling memoir The Wolf of Wall Street, on which the film is based and is fully financing the film and producing with Appian Way, Sikelia Productions and EMJAG Productions.
Producers are Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland (Red Granite Pictures), Leonardo DiCaprio (Appian Way) and Martin Scorsese and Emma Koskoff (Sikelia Productions). Alexandra Milchan is an executive producer.
Red Granite’s foreign sales arm, Red Granite International, led by Danny Dimbort and Christian Mercuri, is handling international sales on the film.

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Paramount Handed Victory For Future ‘Godfather’ Films By Court; Puzo Estate’s Breach Of Contract Claim Still Alive

By | Friday September 28, 2012 @ 7:36am PDT

The contract that the studio made with author Mario Puzo over The Godfather movies can’t be torn up by his estate, a New York judge ruled (read it here) Wednesday. That means Paramount, who released the original Godfather film in 1972 and its subsequent sequels, can make more movies about the Corleone clan if it wants to. However, that doesn’t mean this legal battle is over. “Not immediately before the Court in the instant motion -and therefore not decided in this opinion -is the underlying question of whether the Estate or Paramount owns the book publishing rights to any sequels to The Godfather. The Court denies Paramount’s motion to the dismiss (sic) the Estate’s breach of contract counterclaim,” wrote Judge Alison Nathan.

In February of this year Paramount sued the Puzo estate to stop the publication of an “unauthorized” third Godfather sequel/prequel. In its suit, the studio claimed the book blemished the legacy of the films. In March, the estate countersued, claiming that the contract between Puzo and Paramount distinctly excluded book rights. The countersuit claimed that Paramount is in material breach of its contract with Mario Puzo. The two sides came to a deal in May to allow the publication of new The Family Corleone while the case went on. After Wednesday’s order by the judge, the next stage in the standoff between the studio and the Puzo heirs is a status conference hearing for early January next year.  G. … Read More »

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Film Financier David Bergstein’s Suit Against Law Firms Dismissed

By | Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 4:10pm PDT

Producer and financier David Bergstein suffered a legal defeat today as a judge shut down his $100 million lawsuit against two law firms.  Bergstein claimed the firms — Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and Levene Neale Bender Yoo & Brill, who represent Aramid Entertainment’s David Molner and other creditors in their bankruptcy cases against him — gained confidential information about Bergstein and his companies from his former in-house counsel Susan Tregub while she was still working for him. Judge Michael Linfield agreed with the firms’ separate motions of privileged litigation activities and said they were simply doing their jobs for their client, Molner. This afternoon’s ruling was not unexpected: Last week, the judge released a tentative decision indicating his leaning in the case. Linfield added today that Bergstein’s actions were restricted by the one-year statute of limitations for legal malpractice. Bergstein’s lawyer Alex Weingarten said he plans to file an appeal. “I feel very confident we will win on appeal,” he said.

Related: David Bergstein Ends Miramax Lawsuit Read More »

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Movie Rights To Sammy Davis Jr.’s Life Center Of $35M Lawsuit

By | Friday September 14, 2012 @ 6:35pm PDT

Who owns the option to the Rat Packer’s life? It seems that Sammy’s daughter may have sold the rights to her father’s story to two different companies and now one of them is taking the other to court for $35 million plus other damages to be determined. In a 12-page civil complaint (read it here) self-filed today independent producer Rick Appling claims he owns the film rights to Davis’ life not Byron Allen and Entertainment Studios. Appling’s complaint alleges contractual interference on Allen’s part, making it almost impossible for the former to make a film about the performer. The producer says he secured a three-year option to the entertainer’s life for $10,000 from Tracy Davis on February 5, 2011, although the documents accompanying his complaint actually are dated February 7th. Appling wants a judicial declaration that he has those rights. Failing that Appling wants a determination of who does actually own the rights in a one-day jury trial. Tracy Davis is not named as a defendant in the complaint. Read More »

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Fox Intern ‘Black Swan’ Suit Eyes Expansion

By | Monday August 13, 2012 @ 6:35pm PDT

A hearing in Manhattan on August 24 could significantly enlarge the class action suit two Black Swan interns brought last year against Fox Searchlight. In an order made public today (read it here), Judge William Pauley III has agreed to a conference next week on Alex Footman and Eric Glatt’s request to amend their suit.  “Plaintiffs will seek to broaden the scope of the case to include all interns who participated in Fox Entertainment Group’s (‘FEG’s”) internship program,” wrote their lawyer Rachel Bien in an August 2 memo to the judge. The duo also want to separate the class of interns for their suit into “Corporate Interns,” those who worked through the FEG program, and “Production Interns,” those who worked on films that Fox Searchlight co-produced. To that end the amended suit will add two new plaintiffs, Eden Antalik and Kanene Gratts. The former worked through the FEG program and the latter worked on 2009’s (500) Days of Summer, a Searchlight co-produced film. The legal documents also state that “Ms. Gratts would seek to bring classwide claims under California’s Unfair Competition law for unpaid minimum wages on behalf of Production Interns who worked in California.
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Avi Lerner’s Nu Image Sued By ‘Cops’ Producers Over Unpaid Film Revenues

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 6:03pm PDT

The producers of Cops are taking the producers and distributors of Brooklyn’s Finest and Leaves Of Grass to court over money they say they are owed from the films. In an 11-page complaint filed today, (read it here) Langley Films, who make the long running police series, say Avi Lerner’s Nu Image, as well as Leaves of Grass Productions Inc. and Brooklyn’s Finest Distribution Inc., failed to honor an agreement to pay the company “a portion of the revenues” from both the 2010 comedy and the 2009 crime drama. The three companies are cited as defendants with Lerner, Nu Image/Millennium Films’ Trevor Short and former Nu Image/Millennium foreign sales chief Danny Dimbort named as principals who “may have engaged in a scheme to defraud Langley Films.” Millennium/Nu Image are the producers of, among other films, the upcoming The Expendables 2, Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and the White House thriller Olympus Has Fallen directed by Antoine Fuqua who helmed Brooklyn’s Finest.

RELATED: Lawsuit Filed Over Stuntman’s Death During ‘Expendables 2′

Citing breach of contract and accounting, Langley says in 2008 it gave $3.65 million to pay some development and production costs on the Richard Gere and Don Cheadle-starring Brooklyn’s Finest and $1.5 million for the same for the Edward Norton and Susan Sarandon-starring Leaves of Glass. The complaint alleges that not only has it not received the promised revenue but also that the defendants partially reneged on an August 31, 2011 agreement to pay back the some of the money the Santa Monica-based independent producer had given them. Read More »

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No Decision On Nicollette Sheridan’s Retrial Request After Hearing

By | Thursday August 9, 2012 @ 11:23am PDT

A retrial of Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination suit against ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment  is not going to happen – yet.

At a hearing today, a three-judge Court of Appeal panel consisting of Norman Epstein, Thomas Willhite Jr and Nora Manella heard arguments from Sheridan’s and ABC’s lawyers. At the end of the arguments the judges said that they will take the matter of a retrial and the submitted briefs from the lawyers under consideration. A decision could take up to three months or more, rendering the previously set Sept. 10 start date for a retrial void.

Since the end of the original trial, ABC has argued for a dismissal of the case, insisting that Sheridan was not wrongfully terminated from Desperate Housewives. “All of the evidence shows that Ms. Sheridan was not terminated but her employment came to a natural end when her contract was not renewed,” defense lawyer Adam Levin of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, representing ABC Studios and ABC Entertainment, said today.

Sheridan was in court, accompanied by one of her lawyers, Mark Baute of Baute Crochetiere & Maloney. Judges Willhite and Manella repeatedly queried Baute about his client’s notion of termination. “Is it a termination when a contract is not renewed,” Manella asked. Baute responded by reiterating the alleged on-set head-hitting incident between Sheridan and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry as the basis for what he called “Sheridan’s retaliatory firing for complaining about the incident.” Read More »

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MGM Settles ‘Raging Bull II’ Lawsuit With Movie Name Change

By | Wednesday August 1, 2012 @ 3:30pm PDT

It’s not a TKO but MGM is dropping its lawsuit against the producers of Raging Bull II. “The parties have amicably reached a resolution of their pending litigation, pursuant to which production of a film based upon certain events in the life of Jake LaMotta will proceed under the working title ‘The Bronx Bull’. That film is not related in any way to the 1980 motion picture entitled ‘Raging Bull’, and MGM is not associated with the film in any respect. Neither party will have any further statements regarding this matter”, said MGM and Sunset Pictures’ COO Dahlia Waingort in a joint statement today. MGM had sued the producers of Raging Bull II and 91-year old boxing legend Jake LaMotta himself on on July 3, citing breach of contract and other counts. The new film is based on a memoir that LaMotta wrote that MGM claimed they had rights to. In its 7-page suit in early July, MGM said that Raging Bull II producers were “publicly associating the Sequel Picture” with the original Raging Bull. MGM claimed that this “is plainly intended to create confusion in the marketplace and to trade off the value” of the Martin Scorsese-directed 1980 Oscar-nominated film starring Robert DeNiro. The studio, which owns United Artists, the studio that put out the original, says this will “irreparably tarnish the value of the Picture and MGM’s rights therein”. In the original complaint, MGM wanted a jury … Read More »

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