Veteran movie executive Samuel Goldwyn Jr. sued Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and billionaire John Kluge’s Metromedia International Group Inc. on Wednesday, alleging he was fired by MGM without cause in August and earlier was duped by Metromedia into selling his independent film company with promises he could continue to run it.
The Samuel Goldwyn Co. was first sold to Metromedia in 1996 in a deal valued at $115 million, besting a previous agreement with European entertainment conglomerate PolyGram. MGM this past summer took control of Metromedia’s entertainment assets--including the Goldwyn company--in a $573-million deal.
Goldwyn alleges that shortly after the MGM deal was final, MGM Chairman Frank Mancuso told him that the company had decided to nix any specialized film division, such as Goldwyn Entertainment, which has released such films as “The Madness of King George” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”
Goldwyn’s contract was then terminated, which he alleges has denied him the right to development, acquisition and production funds he bargained for when he first sold his company. He recently announced he is forming his own film company.
MGM in September announced it would set up an autonomous unit called Goldwyn Films. In the lawsuit, Goldwyn is objecting to the use of his name, saying that using the name MGM will be “palming off specialized films” as if he were involved with them.
Goldwyn, son of legendary Hollywood mogul Samuel Goldwyn, alleges that Metromedia breached its contract. He also alleges that money paid to Samuel Goldwyn Co. for remake rights to such films as “The Bishop’s Wife"--made into last year’s “The Preacher’s Wife” by Walt Disney Co.--and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” belong to his family trust.
A spokesman for MGM declined comment, saying the company had not seen the lawsuit. A representative for Metromedia could not be reached.