Hollywood Docket: Garth Brooks Sued by Ex-Partner

A lawsuit says Brooks botched good movie and TV work. Plus, more entertainment legal news.
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Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks is being sued by his former partner, who alleges that she was induced to work on his behalf with the promise of great rewards.

The lawsuit comes from Lisa Sanderson, who has worked with Merv Griffin and Richard Mulligan and has a couple of TV movie executive producer credits to her name. She says she worked with the country music singer for 20 years to bring him television and movie work.

The harshly worded lawsuit says Brooks is a "paranoid, angry, deceitful and vindictive man who will turn against those closest to him on a dime."

Read the complaint here.

Sanderson says she helped Brooks guest star on the TV sitcom Empty Nest, and in 1994, she left her employment to work with him. She says she was promised 50 percent of producer fees paid to a company called Red Strokes.

Among the work that Brooks allegedly turned down was Twister because the tornado was the real star and Saving Private Ryan because "he wanted to be the star and was unwilling to share the limelight with ... Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Edward Burns."

The lawsuit also says that Red Strokes obtained a development deal with Fox and that Brooks pitched a project about a rock star worth more dead than alive. Fox allegedly loved it, though Sanderson says that during the meeting, Brooks said his father had died and that she was "thunderstruck" because she knew that Brooks' father was alive. The project didn't go forward because, according to the lawsuit, he refused to share his publishing music with Fox.

Sanderson also says that Brooks ruined chances to work with Tim Burton on Alice in Wonderland as well as with New Line on a Brooks-written script titled Alyss.

Sanderson is suing for breach of oral contract, fraud and more and seeking $425,000 in damages from unpaid salary, bonuses and punitive damages. She is represented by Marty Singer and Allison Hart at Lavely & Singer.

In other entertainment law news:

  • Marc Toberoff, the attorney representing the heirs of Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, has escaped counterclaims brought by Warner Bros. that he tortiously interfered with a contract over Superman rights. In 2001, the attorney representing the Siegels before Toberoff sent a letter to Warners subsidiary DC Comics accepting the terms of a settlement. In January, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the letter constituted acceptance of DC's offer. A judge in the case still had to adjudicate whether Toberoff's alleged interference to get the Siegels to walk away from the 2001 agreement was improper. In its fight to preserve its Superman rights, Warners contended that Toberoff and his partner had promised the family $15 million to license rights to the lucrative franchise. But earlier this month, the judge ruled that the studio's counterclaims brought in 2010 didn't survive the statue of limitations. Here's the full ruling.
  • Lawsuits over alleged illegal sampling in the music industry continue to thrive. The latest case involves allegations that Kanye West's chart-topping song, "Gold Digger," includes the voice of the late musician David Pryor, saying "Get down." The lawsuit is being brought by Pryor's two children.
  • Hillary Bibicoff is leaving Greenberg Glusker for Holmes Weinberg. A transactional attorney, she has worked on behalf of investors in the finance deal between Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. and also represented Toho Co. in the sale of the rights to a Godzilla feature by those two film companies. She's also an arbitrator at  the Independent Film and Television Alliance and serves on the advisory committee for the UCLA Entertainment Law Symposium.