David Hasselhoff, Nat Geo Sued Over Berlin Wall Documentary
UPDATED: Producers say Hasselhoff agreed to be in their film and then signed on for a second project so similar, it made the first unsellable.
Update: David Hasselhoff and manager Eric Gardner have released statements to The Hollywood Reporter regarding the suit. Read them at the bottom of the post.
David Hasselhoff is being sued for appearing in one too many Berlin Wall documentaries.
Hasselhoff allegedly agreed to tell his story for one documentary — and later signed on for a National Geographic Channel documentary with a similar theme, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The first documentary was to tell how Hasselhoff parlayed his fame in Germany into a music career, and then joined the fight to bring down the Berlin Wall. His hit "Looking for Freedom" became the unofficial anthem of a reunified Germany. The suit claims that in May 2013, Hasselhoff agreed to be paid $25,000 upfront and to receive 15 percent of the profits for the doc.
The suit goes on to say that in August 2013, Hasselhoff's manager Eric Gardner informed filmmaker Mark Hayes that he had received an "out of the blue call" from National Geographic Channels International about a documentary, and asked if he would consider teaming up with Nat Geo. Hayes declined, and allegedly urged Hasselhoff not to pursue the Nat Geo project.
In June of this year, National Geo announced it had commissioned Hasselhoff vs. the Berlin Wall, a documentary the lawsuit alleges would be so similar to the first documentary that it would prevent the filmmakers from being able to sell their version.
The first documentary's producer, Owls Media, is bringing the suit. It is suing for breach of contract and fraud, among other things, and also is seeking an injunction against Nat Geo.
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Nat Geo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Update: on July 14, THR received the following statements from Hasselhoff and Gardner.
"I completed my work in May on Mark and Gabi Hayes' Looking For Freedom project and have been looking forward to its release," Hasselhoff says. "Their lawsuit was totally unexpected. I remain enthusiastic about the project and stand ready, willing and able to participate in all marketing, promotion and social media efforts."
Gardner also defend's the actor's participation in both projects.
"Both Mark and Gabi Hayes and the National Geographic Channel were at all times aware of the other's project, and each had consented to David’s involvement in both," Says gardner. "Moreover, the concept and focus of Looking For Freedom is completely distinct from the concept and focus of the National Geographic Channel documentary Hoff vs The Berlin Wall."
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