10:00am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Iverson' Director Sued by Producer Who Bought Rights to Documentary on Ex-NBA Superstar
In a lawsuit filed in California federal court, Mark Brown says he was shocked to see Iverson, a documentary about NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, playing on Showtime Networks. He allegedly spent years on the project, hired the director, Zatella Beatty, and thought it was going nowhere. He's now suing Beatty.
Brown, whose credits include writing and producing Barbershop, says he paid about $50,000 in 2007 to purchase rights to the Iverson film project. According to the complaint, he went through Iverson's agent.
Afterwards, he allegedly allowed Beatty to direct and spent an additional $170,000 in production costs. According to the complaint, Beatty once worked as a film production assistant for Brown on the films Two Can Play That Game and The Salon.
"In or around 2008, due to unforeseen economic circumstances, Brown ceased funding the Project," states the lawsuit. "This was partially due to the difficulty Brown was experiencing with Iverson’s schedule. Often times, Brown would fly out to a location to interview Iverson and Iverson would suddenly and unexpectedly become unavailable. At that time, the raw material of the Project was approximately 85% edited, but still required a few finishing touches, such as soundtrack music. In light of Brown's significant downsizing, Beatty and Brown amicably parted ways. Brown is unaware if Beatty or any other member of the production crew took over funding."
The lawsuit states that in October 2014, Beatty signed a deal memo with Showtime without Brown's knowledge. Showtime paid approximately $325,000 to license the documentary, according to the complaint. Brown says that despite not owning rights to the project, Beatty and 214 Films represented that it had all the rights and authority to enter into the agreement with Showtime.
Iverson premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. On May 16, it aired on Showtime, which is when Brown says he learned about it.
"Shocked, Brown called Beatty," states the lawsuit. "Beatty told Brown that she 'meant to tell him' about the Deal, but she had decided she 'wanted to surprise him.' The Parties came to a preliminary agreement in which Brown would receive a 'good faith' $25,000 down payment on a minimum payment of $85,000 that was due to Brown along with certain equity interests."
Brown says he still hasn't received compensation nor credit. He has now filed claims of breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion, unfair competition and copyright infringement. He is demanding an accounting, injunctive relief and monetary damages.
Beatty couldn't be reached for comment, but we'll add her response if it comes.