Greenspan Seeking to Bar ESPN
Producer Bud Greenspan, who is making the official film of the 1984 Olympic Games, asked the California Supreme Court Wednesday to stop ESPN from televising a 175-hour series of Olympic highlights, scheduled to begin Saturday and run through July 14.
Greenspan claims that ESPN is violating a contract with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee that limits the cable company to rebroadcasting last year’s television coverage by ABC.
ESPN obtained the rebroadcast rights to the Games in 1983.
Greenspan objects to the fact that the ESPN series, “Spirit of Excellence: The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games,” contains interviews with Olympic athletes who “discuss the emotions they felt during the Games and relate anecdotes about their experiences and those of other athletes.”
An ad placed by ESPN in Sports Illustrated June 3 said the network would be “showing you the Games through the athletes’ eyes,” Greenspan said.
If ESPN is allowed to add the new material to the ABC tape, Greenspan may have trouble finding sponsors for his documentary and “is in grave danger of being put wholly out of business,” said attorney Perry Mocciaro in a written argument to the court. Mocciaro represents Greenspan and his company, Cappy Productions.
The attorney said Greenspan paid $1 million for the rights to the highlight film and has spent more than $2 million producing it. ESPN paid the Olympic committee $200,000 for rebroadcast rights, Mocciaro said.
A spokesman for ESPN said the case was previously argued in Los Angeles Country Superior Court on two occasions and once in the California Court of Appeal and each time the ruling favored ESPN.
Now, Mocciaro is asking the Supreme Court to order ESPN not to show any new material in its Olympic film except for a brief introduction identifying the film.
He said Los Angeles County Superior Judge Irving Shimer had found that the series was “more than a re-telecast” but that the excess was not substantial enough to violate Greenspan’s rights.
Greenspan’s film is scheduled to be previewed July 29 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science in Beverly Hills. The preview showing is being sponsored by The Times.