Nick Cassavetes sues New Line

Says he was told he would direct 'Peaceable Kingdom'

Nick Cassavetes is suing New Line Cinema, claiming he was promised a job helming the planned elephant conservationist biopic "Peaceable Kingdom" but was booted from the project after delivering a full rewrite of the script without being paid.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Cassavetes, who has directed "The Notebook" and this summer's "My Sister's Keeper" for New Line, alleges the studio agreed in March to pay him $275,000 (plus $25,000 for office space) to supervise script development and "several million dollars" more to direct the film (also known as "Elephant Orphanage") about Daphne Sheldrick's efforts to prevent elephant extinction in Kenya.

But Cassavetes claims that he and New Line topper Toby Emmerich agreed that the Jeff Stockwell script for the Mandalay Pictures project required a full "page one" rewrite, which he undertook for no additional charge because he was promised the directing gig. Then, once he turned in a new script that Emmerich liked, the exec allegedly informed Cassavetes he was off the project.

"New Line made promises to (Cassavetes) that he would direct the film in order to obtain his services as a writer without having to enter into a separate writer's agreement and pay him his usual fee for a complete page one rewrite," the lawsuit reads.

Cassavetes says his usual writing fee is $750,000. He's suing for $1,050,000 (the $300,000 he says New Line promised plus the $750,000 he claims he should have been paid for the rewrite) plus millions in unspecified additional damages for his directing fee and for jobs he lost while working on "Kingdom."

The lawsuit was filed by Los Angeles attorneys Hugh Duff Robertson and Vivian Lum. Neither Emmerich nor producers Peter Guber, Chuck Pacheco or Cathy Schulman is named as defendants in the suit.

New Line did not comment.
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