Gordon has say on 'Watchmen'


Larry Gordon is tired of being the villain in the "Watchmen" dispute.

In an unorthodox move, the veteran producer has fired off a lengthy letter to U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess blaming Fox and his then-lawyers for the debacle and offering his version of events that led to the court's ruling that Fox owns distribution rights to the Zack Snyder-helmed comic-book adaptation.

Feess' Dec. 24 decision found that Gordon, who is not a party to the case, did not secure proper rights to "Watchmen" from Fox before shopping the project and setting it up at Warner Bros. The judge also said Gordon had "refused to testify" to key questions during his deposition and, as punishment, would not be allowed to have his voice heard on "any aspect" of the case.

Gordon had remained silent since then but fired back Wednesday, stating in a letter filed by his litigation lawyers that he has been subjected to "significant public scorn" and arguing his case that he answered deposition questions "to the best of his knowledge."

Feess refused to read the letter, issuing a terse one-paragraph response later Wednesday that called it an "improper communication" in violation of court rules.

In the letter, Gordon defends his actions during the negotiations of two key agreements with Fox — during the early 1990s and during the course of the litigation. He also lays out evidence showing his responses to deposition questions.

"Mr. Gordon clearly testified that he does not recall any conversations he had with representatives of Fox in or about 1994 relating to 'Watchmen,' " the letter states.

Gordon is referring to a 1994 turnaround agreement signed by Gordon and Fox that allowed him to shop the project. During negotiations for that agreement, Gordon argues that he and his attorneys were unaware of a 1991 quitclaim agreement that granted Fox a distribution right and a share of profits if Gordon made the film elsewhere.

Feess ruled that Gordon did not fully control "Watchmen" because he failed to reimburse Fox its development costs and to resubmit the project when key creative elements changed.

Gordon claims in his letter that during those negotiations, Fox sent his lawyer, Tom Hunter at the firm Bloom Dekom, a chain of title that did not include the 1991 quitclaim.

"It is Mr. Gordon's position that the execution of the 1994 turnaround agreement was the result of either a mutual mistake by both parties or a unilateral mistake made by his counsel, on which Mr. Gordon relied," the letter says.

Fox, Warner Bros. and Gordon's attorneys declined comment.

The development comes as the parties are scheduled to meet in Feess' courtroom today to determine a timeline for Feess to decide whether to issue an injunction blocking Warners' planned March 6 release of the potential tentpole.

Several sources have said discussions are heating up, but both studios denied late Thursday that an agreement had been reached in the stalemate.

Also Thursday, "Watchmen" producer Lloyd Levin lashed out at Fox in an open letter screed posted on the Web site HitFix. (partialdiff)