LEGAL SNARL: SPRINGSTEEN OR SEGER?
Director Peter Bogdanovich has sued Universal Pictures and producer Martin Starger in a last-ditch effort to get Bruce Springsteen’s music back onto the sound track of “Mask” before its March 8 release.
About 10 minutes of Springsteen favorites were replaced with 10 minutes of Bob Seger songs after the producers reached an impasse in licensing negotiations with CBS Records and Springsteen. Bogdanovich alleges in the $19-million suit that the Seger-Springsteen switch was made while he was out of town over the Christmas holidays and that Seger’s songs are “inappropriate.”
Bogdanovich’s L. A. Superior Court suit, filed Monday, claims that Universal’s action, “induced by Starger,” violated the director’s contractual right to “final theatrical cut regarding the musical material.” The movie, based on a true story, stars Cher as a lady biker and Eric Stoltz as her congenitally disfigured son.
Bogdanovich has adamantly argued that the Springsteen songs, which Springsteen himself approved during the script stage of the project, are integral to the movie. Universal has been equally adamant about not meeting CBS’s demand for a percentage of the film’s videocassette profits, which the studio believes could set a costly precedent.
Unfortunately, the impasse came to a head only after Bogdanovich had edited the movie to the Springsteen songs. Bogdanovich, who owns 5% of the film’s profits, according to the suit, has met on his own with CBS and Springsteen representatives in an effort to negotiate a compromise. The suit sheds no light on his progress.
Bogdanovich and Starger/Universal also have been at odds over the dramatic content of the film, especially two scenes deleted from the director’s version. The suit claims that Bogdanovich has final dramatic cut, unless Starger disagrees. Universal President Frank Price was to “arbitrate” any disagreement after “public previews” of Bogdanovich’s and Starger’s competing cuts.
That procedure was never followed, according to the suit. Price and Starger did not return a reporter’s phone calls.
SECOND SUIT: “Mask” isn’t the only movie generating legal fees this week. Orion Pictures was sued for $11 million Tuesday in L.A. Superior Court by Kenneth Kahn, a local attorney depicted in “The Falcon and the Snowman.”
“Falcon” is based on the true story of Christopher Boyce (Timothy Hutton) and Andrew Daulton Lee (Sean Penn). Kahn, who represented Lee at his espionage trial, objects to a “fabricated” scene involving Lee’s arrest on drug charges. Kahn claims that his character is seen “repeatedly haranguing” Lee to inform on his drug suppliers in exchange for reduced charges.
Kahn claims that the scene in question actually occurred between Lee and a local police detective, as described in the original “Falcon” book by Robert Lindsey.
Kahn said in a phone interview that he discovered the inaccuracy when the movie opened and immediately asked Orion to clear his name at a press conference. Orion stalled, and Kahn sued.
Kahn doesn’t know if he has lost any potential clients but says that attorneys have been calling to ask if he was on the police payroll while representing Lee. “I have no idea why they’d put me in a scene where I don’t belong,” he said. “It’s a stupid, senseless attack, and it has no dramatic value.” Orion declined to comment.
HUTTON HYPE: Is Timothy Hutton to blame for the disastrous opening of “Turk 182!” and the lagging fortunes of “The Falcon and the Snowman”?
Syndicated columnist Marilyn Beck suggested as much Monday, reporting that Hutton’s longtime publicist “fired” him as a client for lack of cooperation on the publicity beat. Beck sternly admonished Hutton for joining those young actors who feel that they’re “above and beyond” publicity.
Hutton’s publicist, Andrea Jaffe, denies telling Beck of any “firing,” though she acknowledges that she goes off salary (as is customary) at the end of the month while Hutton is between films.
She added that Hutton met dozens of interview requests (including Rolling Stone, a three-part “Today Show” and a New York press junket for “Falcon”), with the conspicuous exception of Beck. “It’s not uncommon for a columnist to use his or her forum to distort facts because an interview request does not work out,” she said.
Beck stands by her original report and claims that Hutton’s people approached her for the interview. It was repeatedly postponed, she said, because Jaffe was having trouble with the actor.
AROUND TOWN: Kathleen Turner is said to be back on board as star of 20th Century Fox’s “Jewel of the Nile,” the sequel to “Romancing the Stone.” Fox had sued the actress after negotiations stalemated while Turner was considering a lead role in Universal’s “The Money Pit.”
Turner apparently is already seeking a post-"Jewel” assignment. According to a close source, she met Tuesday morning with director Francis Coppola and is expected to take over Debra Winger’s role in “Peggy Sue Got Married.” Winger’s recent back injury put the scheduled production on hold.
Coppola was spotted Monday night on Sunset Boulevard buying flowers. Which actress were they for? It wasn’t clear.
BOX OFFICE: “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Witness” and “The Breakfast Club” remained the top three films at the nation’s theater’s last weekend with ticket sales of $5.9 million, $5.1 million and $4.3 million, respectively.
“The Breakfast Club,” which had the smallest percentage drop of the three over the previous weekend, is shaping up as a major hit despite its serious twist on the typically comic teen genre. Universal Pictures chose to emphasize rather than disguise the movie’s peculiarities: “The (ad) look had to be classy,” says marketing chief Marvin Antonowsky. “We didn’t want to sell it as a comedy.”