'Hoosiers' Writer and Movie Producer Trade Blows Over Boxer Film

Vinny Pazienza Headshot - P 2012
Getty Images

Vinny Pazienza Headshot - P 2012

Angelo Pizzo, the writer of Hoosiers and Rudy, is fighting with the producer of his latest sports film, Paz: The Vinny Pazienza Story, about the real-life boxing champion who was in a car crash that threatened his career before making an incredible comeback.

Pizzo and producer Chad Verdi have filed dueling complaints over issues of payment and the delivery of the script.

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In March, Pizzo went first.

He, along with the Writers Guild of America, submitted an arbitration claim that alleged Verdi and his Paz Productions hadn't paid guaranteed compensation of $60,000 for the first draft of the script, hadn't paid $80,000 in guaratees for the rewrite and hadn't made pension plan and health fund contributions.

Verdi struck back last month in a case that was first filed in Rhode Island Superior Court before being removed to federal court earlier this week.

According to the producer's version of what happened, Pizzo was told, "Time is of the essence" and given direction to make a story like The Blind Side. But upset with management changes at the production company, Pizzo allegedly failed to comply with his deadlines. The screenplay he eventually delivered was deemed "unacceptable" and not in accordance with directions.

In Pizzo's arbitration claim, the writer demanded $140,000 in owed payments, plus interest, as well as more than $29,000 in pension and health contributions.

Verdi says the arbitrator doesn't have jurisdiction and in his own lawsuit is seeking $1.5 million in damages for negligence, breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing.

According to reports, the boxing film about Paz was to be budgeted at $12 million and directed by Boiler Room director Ben Younger.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner