December 16, 2011 5:50pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Warner Bros. Settles 'Baby It's You' Lawsuit
Warner Bros. has settled a legal dispute over the Broadway musical Baby It's You, which premiered earlier this year and prompted surviving members of the 1950s girl group the Shirelles to sue the studio for allegedly misusing their names and likenesses.
The musical told the story of Florence Greenberg, the woman who discovered The Shirelles and created Scepter Records, becoming the music industry's first female powerhouse. Members of the group, including recent Celebrity Apprentice star Dionne Warwick, claimed in their April lawsuit against Warner Bros.' theatrical division that the group, "having been cheated out of their royalties when they were young and popular, are now victimized again."
The show didn't enjoy Jersey Boys-type success on Broadway, though. It closed in September and on Thursday, a federal judge ordered the the lawsuit discontinued after the parties reached an agreement in principal. Details of the settlement are not known.
The case represented one of many efforts of late by celebrities to assert publicity rights to stop a piece of entertainment.
Before the lawsuit was dismissed, Warner Bros. had attempted to get the litigation tossed as an abridgment of constitutionally-protected free speech. The studio said that Baby It's You had "many newsworthy topics of public interest, including the emergence of women working outside the home in the 1950s, the creation and rise of influential record labels and the inner workings of the music industry in the 1950s and 60s."
Now the lawsuit looks to be finished, although the judge has reserved the right to reopen the action within 90 days if the settlement is not consummated.