1:03pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Judge Won't Allow MGM to Speed Up Lawsuit Over Universal's 'Section 6'
Spy thrillers are typically fast-paced. Lawsuits over spy thrillers, on the other hand, are another story.
In the first act in the litigation over the Aaron Berg-scripted Section 6, a California federal judge has denied MGM’s motion for expedited discovery.
MGM sued Universal Studios last week alleging that its James Bond franchise is in danger of being knocked off. The plaintiff was assured by its legal adversary that the movie about the early days of U.K. intelligence agency MI6 won’t infringe the 007 copyrights, but MGM is dubious about a project it says features "a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by 'His Majesty’s Secret Service,' with a 'licence to kill,' and a 00 (double-O) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain."
Universal says it hasn’t given the film a green light yet, and the script is going through revisions.
MGM responded by arguing that Universal was admitting to preparing “another unauthorized screenplay” and pointed to public statements touting the hiring of a director, lead actor and four producers.
In order to ensure that Section 6 didn’t "ride the coattails" of the next James Bond film — slated to be released in Oct. 5 — MGM wanted pretty much all communications between Universal and Berg related to the screenplay. Plus any documents mentioning key words like "M," "Q," "Moneypenny," "Bond Girls" and so forth. MGM also wanted Berg to appear for a deposition within 14 days.
U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson doesn't see the rush. He's denied the motion.
"Judge Pregerson has ordered Universal to meet with us 'forthwith' to try to resolve Danjaq and MGM’s discovery needs," says attorney Robert Schwartz, representing the plaintiffs. "If we can’t, we are to invoke the procedures for a motion to compel."