February 24, 2012 2:38pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Rick Schroder Sues Film Producers Claiming Extortion
Rick Schroder, the actor who starred in Silver Spoons as a child before going on to NYPD Blue and many other dramas, is having trouble trouble finding a distributor for his feature film directorial debut, Wild Hearts. In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Schroder blames two producers who purportedly tried to extort him after he backed away from their project.
According to the lawsuit, Joseph and Jack Nasser at the Nasser Entertainment Group intended to make a film entitled Black Stallion, an adaptation of 1938 film, King of the Sierras.
Schroder says he entered into discussion with the Nassers in 2010 to write the script and direct and star in it. He said he was given dialogue from the 1938 film but never used it for "creative reasons." Schroder told producers he wanted $1.8 million for 18 days of shooting, but that Nasser Entertainment only came up with $600,000 for a 12-day shoot.
So Schroder says he backed off, never having signed a deal memorandum.
Afterward, Schroder began a new film project, titled Wild Hearts, which he says he wrote himself and used his own funds to make. The new film also featured a wild stallion, but Schroder says it didn't include any material from King of the Sierras nor were there any similarities.
Schroder then says he got an "extortionate letter," where the Nassers claimed ownership on his new film. The parties are said to have tried to negotiate the situation, with Schroder offering they distribute Wild Hearts, but they came to no resolution because the producers demanded fees "that were considerably higher than is standard in the motion picture industry."
The actor then says he was sent another letter by the attorney for Nasser claiming his client owned the copyright on Wild Hearts and "that the draft negotiated distribution agreement was binding even though it was never signed."
As a result of the legal dispute, Schroder goes on to say that other distributors "withdrew their interest" in his film.
He's now seeking a declaratory judgment about his rights and also suing the defendants for extortion, conversion, fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Nasser has not responded to requests for comment.