Tupac clan rips Morgan Creek
Suit claims firm sabotaged project after deal with family broke downTupac Shakur's mother is firing back at Morgan Creek over the right to make a biopic about the late rapper.
In a $10 million cross-complaint set to be filed this morning, Afeni Shakur's Amaru Entertainment claims that Morgan Creek, topper James Robinson and others tried to strong-arm a deal for Tupac movie rights, then sabotaged the project when Amaru attempted to set it up elsewhere.
"Instead of negotiating in good faith with (Amaru), they sought to obtain the rights by concocting a nonexistent 'agreement' and engaging in heavy-handed threats, coercion and intimidation to interfere with and ultimately destroy the film project," Amaru claims.
Morgan Creek first filed a lawsuit last month in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming that Amaru, which controls the Tupac estate, backed out of a done deal to sell life rights for a biopic about the slain rapper-actor.
The company, headed by Robinson and former CAA agent Rick Nicita, said it received a final term sheet in December detailing everything that would be required to reach an agreement. The proposal was accepted by Morgan Creek executives in late January, but Amaru has refused to honor it, the complaint alleged.
Now Amaru is seeking a court declaration that there never was a deal. Morgan Creek allegedly was one of several suitors for the project, including Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Kennedy/Marshall and Brett Ratner's Rat Entertainment. The cross-complaint says key details of a deal, including an executive producer credit and backend participation for Afeni Shakur, were not worked out with Morgan Creek and that she hadn't even seen the proposed contract. Instead, Amaru's "Counter Offer" was to be the basis for further negotiation, according to the filing.
But days after "Notorious," a biopic about Tupac rival Biggie Smalls, grossed more than $20 million in its opening weekend Jan. 16-18, Morgan Creek execs allegedly arranged a conference call with an Amaru attorney to "accept" the counteroffer and began telling other studios and producers that Morgan Creek owned rights to the project.
"This was a sleazy and illegal ploy to coerce (Amaru) into a deal," says the cross-complaint, which demands millions in damages for derailing talks with potential studios and producers.
Morgan Creek and its attorney Patricia Glaser declined to comment.
Also named in the cross-complaint are Morgan Creek legal executive Don Hardison and consultant LT Hutton. Nicita is not named personally.
The legal move is not unexpected. At the time of the Morgan Creek filing, Amaru and its lawyer Skip Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that they promised to countersue for "millions" in damages.