By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Think about it: Siegel sold the rights to the action hero he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130, and his heirs got back ownership of the character in 1999 and can possibly lay claim to $50-plus million of Warner Bros.’ and/or its DC Comics cash. The Shusters look to clean up before long too. Lest any rabid Superman fan blame the Siegels or Shusters for fucking up a Superman Returns sequel, or a Justice League of America movie featuring Superman (or not), know this: Warner execs fucked up both by themselves. There’s been enough back story surrounding these pics to fill a book. There wouldn’t have been if only Superman Returns had been any good.
Siegel’s heirs once complained to then–Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons that the company was “greedy” and “heartless” and acted “just like the gestapo ... Is that the reputation you want?” I say the answer is a resounding yes, because for years Warner tied Disney for its aggressive unwillingness to settle these kinds of legal disputes and its absurd eagerness to risk going to court. Its corporate counsel would hire litigation piranhas hungry for billable hours, who pledged to make each case go away by exhausting the patience and resources of the creators or rights holders. It’s a thoroughly effective but completely disgusting way of doing business.
Yet it’s interesting that, especially lately, Warner has lost or settled some pricey lawsuits, especially those pursued by that Malibu Robin Hood of a litigator Marc Toberoff, who has taken on Big Media on behalf of creators and their heirs for Superman and Superboy, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Wild Wild West, It’s Alive and so on. The majors both fear and hate him, with good reason: He’s a relentless opportunist — exactly what’s needed.
Jack Klugman’s just-filed lawsuit against NBC Universal over Quincy M.E. sounds like one of the worst cases of phony-baloney studio accounting, not to mention sheer arrogance, in Hollywood history. When is Big Media going to stop this larceny? According to the lawsuit, NBC Uni is claiming that, as of the end of fiscal year 2006, Quincy M.E. had accumulated more than $66 million in net losses — despite everyone knowing the 1976–1983 series is a classic shown all over the world to this day.
Through his Beverly Hills attorneys Johnson & Johnson (full disclosure: this firm represents me in a lawsuit related to a personal matter), Klugman, who’s claiming NBC Uni won’t even show him his contract, gave me this statement: “I don’t want their money. I want my money. I can’t believe they’ve collected over $250 million dollars and they say they are still in the hole. I have 28 percent of the net and they won’t even give me a copy of my contract. I worked for them for almost eight years. I got up at 4 o’clock in the morning. I would rewrite. I did a ton of work. It’s on every day. I haven’t gotten a penny for years.”
From Nikki Finke''s DeadlineHollywoodDaily.