In a lawsuit filed today in federal court, a producer is alleging that the Clint Eastwood/Amy Adams baseball drama Trouble with the Curve (if you haven’t seen that, at one point, Clint Eastwood sings “You Are My Sunshine” to his dead wife’s tombstone, it’s f*cking bananas) ripped off a screenplay he commissioned called “Omaha.”
Well actually, the producer, Ryan Brooks, alleges that Trouble with the Curve ripped off a screenplay he commissioned from a writer named Don Hanfield, which Brooks actually sued Hanfield for in 2008, claiming Hanfield’s work was sub-par. Anyway, now Brooks actually wants credit for Trouble with the Curve, which currently lists Randy Brown as the sole writer. But Brooks now says Curve bears the unmistakable fingerprints of Hanfield.
Now, if you’ve heard Matthew Berry tell the Crocodile Dundee 3 saga, you know that writers and producers trying to screw each other out of writing credits (and more importantly, the royalties they bring) is a time-honored practice. What sets THIS one apart is the ridiculously overblown rhetoric of the lawsuit. It reads like he wrote the whole thing coked to the gills, with Troy Duffy fist pumping at his shoulder. Just get a load of the intro:
There are often events within an industry in which massive amounts of money are earned that reveal a viral-like infection of greed, lack of ethics, and criminal behavior festering therein. We have seen these infections and their fallout within Wall Street, presently within professional sports, and sometimes, within Hollywood. This case is about a conspiracy to steal the body, structure, theme, and soul of a unique, original, copyrighted screenplay from a production company and its owner and the ensuing attempt to camouflage the stolen screenplay, toss the credits to some of the conspirators, and the profits to those either in on the scam or who recklessly turned a blind eye to benefit from the theft. The conspiracy alleged herein, and related cover-up is unprecedented in nature.
Rewriting someone’s screenplay is not only wrong, but also “a conspiracy” and “unprecedented.” This dude’s putting the whole system on trial.
Here’s what he had to say about Brown, the credited screenwriter:
“The story Randy Brown tells is like a lie told by a four year old who has eaten a box of Oreo cookies and stands before a parent denying he had eaten the cookies while having Oreo crumbs all over his face.”
One of my all-time favorite things is when someone makes an analogy that isn’t very good, and because the thing they’re using to explain the thing they want explained isn’t really that much like that thing, they just keep going into greater and greater detail about the second thing. “Getting dumped by Linda was akin to the scene in Temple of the Doom when Mola Ram plunged his evil fist into the innocent victim’s chest and pulled out his still beating heart, ‘Kali ma, kali ma,’ they chanted, and then later Indy had to put his hands in some gross bugs.”
“This man, at age fifty at the time in question, had but two small writing credits to his entire career and was playing in a band that performed at weddings and gigs at places such as Monty’s Steak House. Randy Brown is an imposter in his attempt to take the bows for an original work created and owned by others. His few, controlled, public interviews seem rehearsed and are noticeably flabbergasting to interviewers and the reading or listening audience. He does not come close to providing a colorable story of independent creation.”
There’s a lot of greatness in that paragraph, but I’m choosing the phrase “noticeably flabbergasting” as my favorite. Who would’ve thought to use the gerund form of “flabbergast?” I don’t know if his lawsuit has merit, but his prose is revolutionary.
Ooh, but how do we know this script is really a ripoff? Do you have any examples of what parts they stole??
Handfield’s way of writing, his references to country or honky-tonk bars, his habit of using the word “pissed,” his tendency to employ bar fight scenes involving broken beer bottles, his employment of dialogue about past wars or war veterans, his favorite practice of writing scenes which incorporate classic older cars, even if in a beat-up condition, and his use of “family photos” to drive home a character’s reflection on past memories are present in Trouble with the Curve, just as they are also in all permutations of Omaha that he wrote with Brooks. They are even found in his other works, including, but not necessarily limited to, Touchback.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, they reflect on past memories while looking at pictures? What other stuff did they steal? Blurry dissolves and harp music to indicate a flashback? A montage to show the passage of time? I just want you to get credit for all your work.
So, I really like your lawsuit. But maybe it’s a little narrow, esoteric. Do you think you could give it, I don’t know, higher stakes? You know, really relate it back to the common man, America, the world, and the very fabric of reality.
Cheating is cheating, in any walk of life and in any manner, and just because one works behind the curtain of Tinsel Town does not make cheating acceptable or proper, especially for those who have such great influence over our society.
You can really never use the phrase “Tinsel Town” enough in legal paperwork, I always say.
Articles have been written suggesting that the courts of law have become bouncers at the door of justice; thereby preventing victims of such greed and avarice from securing a remedy, and thereby shining a light on the degenerating ethics of this darkening industry. This case will serve as a beacon of light for those who wish to follow in an effort to rid the industry of such corruption. This case is built on evidence, hard facts, persuasive expert opinions, investigative reports, common sense, and the exposed egos of those who believe that grown adults can lie egregiously without getting caught because they think they are invincible.
“You can read all about it in my upcoming script, ‘Bouncers at the Door of Justice,’ starring Vin Diesel and the ghost of Jimmy Stewart.”
If this guy didn’t put on his finest Ray Chandler fedora and shadowbox around the room at least once during the drafting of this lawsuit, I’ll eat my copy of LA Confidential. (*takes long drag on cigarette, solemnly stares out window while daydreaming of dead wife*)