December 20, 2012 12:40pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Documentary Producer Claims Spike TV Stole Film Footage for 'I Am Bruce Lee'
Did one fight film appropriate scenes from another?
Chris Tavlarides, the producer of a TV documentary entitled The Good Son: The Life of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini has filed an unusual lawsuit against Spike Cable Networks over its film, I Am Bruce Lee.
According to a complaint filed this week in California federal court, he made a deal in 2010 with Network Entertainment Inc. to film a documentary based on a book by Mark Kriegel about the career of a boxing legend. The following summer, after the conclusion of principal photography, nearly all of the film's production personnel was pulled off of The Good Son and moved over to another Network production, I Am Bruce Lee.
The two films not only shared the same director, line producer and post-production houses, but allegedly some of the same on-camera talent including Mickey Rourke, Ed O'Neil and Ray Mancini.
"Two very different subjects (Mancini v. Lee), two ostensibly different films, yet one suspiciously universal source for many of the two films' principal elements," says the lawsuit.
Tavlarides says he saw I Am Bruce Lee on Spike in February, 2012, after being referred by a friend who told him it had the exact same feel, tone, scenes and actors.
The plaintiff says he realized that the "exact film footage" he owned from The Good Son "somehow appeared in I Am Bruce Lee, to wit, a sequence where Ray Mancini is hitting the 'heavy bag' in a boxer's training gym in Santa Monica, California.
He says he never granted permission and believes that Network "diverted" funds from his film to help complete I Am Bruce Lee for Spike.
Tavlarides, represented by attorney David Berke, is suing for copyright infringement and asking that Spike be enjoined from re-broadcasting I Am Bruce Lee and hand over all gains, profits and advantages from its acts of alleged infringement.
Viacom, the parent of Spike TV, hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner