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Hollywood studios are often accused of stealing ideas. Few copyright lawsuits, though, bring allegations as colorful as one being made over Warner Bros.’ 2012 film, Trouble With the Curve, starring Clint Eastwood as a cantankerous aging baseball scout.
In a complaint filed on Tuesday in California federal court, Gold Glove Productions and its leader Ryan Brooks allege that the film is substantially similar to a screenplay titled Omaha.
That Omaha script was penned by Don Handfield and was allegedly made as a work-for-hire for Gold Glove. In 2008, a dispute erupted when Gold Glove accused Handfield of breaching an agreement and doing a “substandard” job in polishing the script. Charles Ferraro of United Talent Agency is said to have been involved in the dispute, representing Handfield.
It’s now being alleged that Handfield was “then involved in camouflaging Omaha such that it would become Trouble With the Curve,” and that despite changes like transforming the baseball backdrop from the life of a college coach to that of a major league scout, “Don Handfield’s writing style, tics and persona are like fingerprints and DNA all over Trouble With the Curve.”
In what Gold Glove now says is a “scandalous conspiracy,” the story of Trouble With the Curve is credited to Randy Brown. The plaintiff is not impressed with the man’s credentials.
“This man, at age 50 at the time in question, had but two small writing credits to his entire career and was playing in a band that performed at weddings and gigs at places such as Monty’s Steak House,” says the lawsuit. “Randy Brown is an impostor in his attempt to take the bows for an original work created and owned by others. His few, controlled, public interviews seem rehearsed and are noticeably flabbergasting to interviewers and the reading or listening audience. He does not come close to providing a colorable story of independent creation.”
The salacious lawsuit includes all sorts of insults toward Brown. For example, “The story Randy Brown tells is like a lie told by a four-year-old who has eaten a box of Oreo cookies and stands before a parent denying he had eaten the cookies while having Oreo crumbs all over his face.”
Ferraro is said to be Brown’s agent as well, and the lawsuit makes it a point to question how a big Hollywood agent came to represent him.
In the end, the merits of the copyright claim are likely to be judged on whether any reasonable juror could see substantial similarity between the two scripts, assuming that is, Gold Glove has rightful ownership over Omaha. There’s also a racketeering claim that attempts to tie an alleged conspiracy of the various defendants including Handfield, Brown, Warner Bros., UTA, Gersh Agency and others.
For now, the lawsuit is more notable for its quoting of The Great Gatsby, a photographic image of a Omaha baseball bat and lofty rhetoric.
“Articles have been written suggesting that the courts of law have become bouncers at the door of justice; thereby preventing victims of such greed and avarice from securing a remedy, and thereby shining a light on the degenerating ethics of this darkening industry,” says the lawsuit.
Continuing, the lawsuit adds, “This case will serve as a beacon of light for those who wish to follow in an effort to rid the industry of such corruption. This case is built on evidence, hard facts, persuasive expert opinions, investigative reports, common sense and the exposed egos of those who believe that grown adults can lie egregiously without getting caught because they think they are invincible.”
Warner Bros. and UTA both say they haven’t seen the lawsuit yet and can’t comment. The other defendants couldn’t immediately be reached.
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