Walt Disney Co., in a lawsuit filed Thursday, accused movie executive David Kirkpatrick of trying to raid Disney’s film projects and executive ranks in violation of an agreement he signed on leaving the studio to join Paramount Pictures a month ago.
Kirkpatrick is currently executive vice president of Paramount’s motion picture group and previously was production president for Disney’s Touchstone and Walt Disney Pictures units.
“Mouses that live in glass houses shouldn’t call other people louses,” said Howard Weitzman, an attorney for Kirkpatrick. Weitzman said Kirkpatrick strongly denies the claims.
In its lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Disney said Kirkpatrick tried to recruit one executive, Donald Granger, and told Disney officers that he expected to bring other Disney managers to Paramount, despite having signed an agreement not to recruit Disney employees for at least two years.
Disney also said Kirkpatrick illegally used confidential information obtained at Disney to solicit from writer Ed Kaplan and producer Steve Tisch a film project called “The Dead Letter Department.”
Disney sought unspecified damages, and it asked the court to prevent Kirkpatrick from raiding the studio, or to force him to honor the terms of a five-year employment contract from which Disney had released him.
Relations between the two studios have often been strained since Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and other executives left Paramount to take charge of Disney five years ago.