Richard Linklater Sued by Financier Claiming to Have Been Cut Out of 'Everybody Wants Some'

Richard Linklater-Getty-H 2016
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival

The way that Richard Linklater tells it, his follow-up to Boyhood didn't come easy. The Oscar-nominated director has said that financing Everybody Wants Some was "surprisingly hard" even though it was pitched as a successor of sorts to his 1993 cult-favorite film Dazed and Confused. Now, two months after Everybody Wants Some opened the South by Southwest festival with distribution by Paramount, Linklater has been named in a fraud lawsuit in New York by a financier who claims to have been ousted from the picture. 

The suit, which also targets Linklater's Detour FilmProduction as well as Cinetic Media, was filed Friday by Insurgent Media and Erik H. Gordon, an investment banking scion who has spent the last couple of years fending off an allegation that he hired an assistant to be his "eye candy" on trips including to the Sundance Film Festival.

Gordon is now on offense. According to his complaint, Gordon tapped Cinetic, run by the esteemed attorney John Sloss, to be his company's consultant in pursuit of film production investments. Gordon says that Sloss presented a film financing opportunity in early 2009 for a Linklater script then called "That's What I'm Talking About." The film was described by Sloss as a "college comedy that has been kicking around in Rick's head for years, with a tone and period that in many ways makes it the spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused — with a little Before Sunrise thrown in."

Gordon says he soon met with Linklater to discuss financing, and an agreement resulted "under which Mr. Linklater and his film production company, Detour, promised that Mr. Gordon and his company, ErGo, would have the right to finance the Film in exchange for financial benefits and screen credits on a motion picture produced based on the Script."

The lawsuit then alleges that years before such discussion, Linklater and Detour had already assigned rights in the script to Paramount under a work-for-hire agreement. Gordon says he was "unaware that Paramount was already involved" when his own company came to an alleged finance and production agreement and paid $32,140 in development costs for the film.

Linklater proposed a $10 million budget for the film and, according to the lawsuit, Gordon responded in an April 20, 2009, email that he would get back to him, but stated, "I'm quite keen to get started with you." A follow-up message a week later from Gordon noted, "The only remaining hesitation is that we went into this really hoping for a distributor to come along and kick in some equity along with some level of guaranteed theatrical distribution."

At that point, Sloss allegedly represented that he was having trouble finding a distributor, and Linklater's work on the film was suspended later in 2009. Gordon says Paramount's role was kept secret from him.

Linklater supposedly stopped work on the film, and Gordon says he next heard about the project in 2013 when Sloss sent another message about getting the pic off the ground. Gordon says he was still interested and tried to call Sloss, but was unable to reach him. Gordon claims to have run into Sloss and Linklater at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and asked them about the status of the project. Linklater allegedly responded that he was still very interested but working on other projects.

Over the years, Gordon says he would tell other business partners about his rights to this film. According to the complaint, "It was during one of these discussions, on January 26, 2016, on a flight to Los Angeles from the Sundance Film Festival, that Mr. Gordon learned for the first time that Mr. Linklater already made the Film under the title Everybody Wants Some."

Gordon is now suing Linklater and Detour for breach of the 2009 financing agreement and suing Cinetic for breach of the consulting agreement and tortious interference. He's also asserting a fraud claim against the defendants. Neither Cinetic nor Detour were available for comment about the lawsuit.

The appearance of Gordon as a plaintiff is particularly notable given a lawsuit he's been defending. The financier might have carried some baggage.

In February 2014, Lotti Bluemner sued Ergo and Gordon for alleged discrimination and wrongful termination. Bluemner alleged she was paid $90,000 plus benefits to be his personal assistant, but that her responsibilities were to act as "Gordon's entre-vouz to the Los Angeles social and nightclub scene" and assist Gordon in pursuing in other women. She says she was "on-call" on his trips to Las Vegas, New York and the Sundance Film Festival, and that Gordon's modus operandi "consisted of trading upon his father's (one of the founders of Angelo & Gordon) wealth, fame, connections, and political capital by taking meetings during the day with his and his father's wealthy and politically connected friends, celebrities, and politicians, and then partying, drinking, and consuming various illegal drugs each night."

Bluemner stated she would accompany Gordon during "nights of drunken and drug-fueled debauchery" and essentially babysit him as others attempted to take advantage of his wealth. She says she was regularly invited to join him and strippers in various hot tubs — that he would do lines of coke off her breasts — and that she was eventually fired after becoming pregnant. 

A court is scheduled in June to consider dismissal in the Bluemner lawsuit after the parties arrived at a settlement.