Hollywood Docket: Brendan Fraser Sues; Kelsey Grammer Wins; And the Funniest Lawsuit of the Year
A roundup of entertainment and media law news including a win for Leslie Moonves and a setback for Beyoncé.
Brendan Fraser is suing producers of William Tell...The Legend, alleging they violated a written agreement to star in a proposed film about the Swiss folk hero known for his expert bow-and-arrow marksmanship.
In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Friday, Fraser says he was approached in early 2011 by Arclight Studios to star in the film. The project was acquired by producer Todd Moyer, who allegedly ran into trouble financing the project.
Fraser says he forgoed other jobs, incurred out-of-pocket travel expenses to market the film to prospective investors and in November 2011, got Moyer to agree in writing to pay him for his acting services. According to the complaint, he was to receive $2.25 million in fixed compensation, 10 percent of which was to be paid as a "hold fee." The rest was to be deposited into an escrow account.
Fraser now alleges in his lawsuit against Moyer that the terms of his "pay or play" deal have been violated and that Moyer has delayed commencement of production on the film. Asserting breach of contract, fraud, and promissory estoppel, he's seeking $3 million in compensatory damages. Fraser is repped by Marty Singer.
In other entertainment law news:
- Kelsey Grammer has successfully defended a copyright infringement lawsuit that alleged that he along with other producers of the BET television series The Game lifted an author's script for an episode of the show. The plaintiff had alleged that she had given the script to her agent, who implied that it would be sent to producers. The episode in question aired in 2007, and the judge said her claims were barred by statute of limitations.
- The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has absolved CBS and its chief executive, Leslie Moonves, from liability for not quickly disclosing a $14 billion write-off in 2008. The appellate circuit notes that the "red flags" such as an economic slowdown at the time were public knowledge and that suing shareholders hadn't shown that the company committed securities fraud by ignoring accounting standards for valuing goodwill.
- In an ongoing multi-million lawsuit by video game company Gate Five that alleges that Beyoncé walked away from an agreement to develop a game, a judge has rejected the singer's motion to dismiss, saying at a hearing last month, "They were in the drafting process of a substantial and serious deal and someone pulled the plug. This motion is denied. I am not going to go further with this. I'm surprised this is so meritless." Beyoncé is expected to testify in the case.
- Is suing entertainment companies some sort of performance art for some individuals. In the funniest case of the year so far, a Maryland man is suing Mark Burnett, saying he came up with the idea behind The Voice, suing Comcast and its chairman Brian Roberts, saying he came up with the idea behind cable television, and suing Barbara Eden, saying that if she had told others that he created I Dream of Jeannie, his life would be different. And somehow, a mysterious person named Xuxa is involved. Here's the funny complaint.