College Fullback Claims Producer Stiffed Him
MIAMI (CN) - A former University of Miami football player sued movie director Billy Corben, claiming Corben hired him as an assistant producer for an ESPN-commissioned documentary, but gave him no credit or payment for his work.
Kevin Brinkworth Jr. sued Corben and his Miami Beach studio, Rakontur, in Miami-Dade County Court, alleging unjust enrichment and breach of contract.
Brinkworth, who played fullback for the Hurricanes from 1991-1996, claims Corben stiffed him for his work on "The U," which chronicled the Miami Hurricane's rise to national eminence in college football. Brinkworth claims the show was ESPN's highest-rated documentary.
The complaint states: "Although plaintiff Brinkworth's contributions to the film were substantial, amounting to 1/3 of the actual footage used in the film, conservatively, defendants Corben/Rakontur breached the aforementioned agreement by refusing to pay plaintiff Brinkworth for his work; refusing to list Kevin Brinkworth's name in the film's credits as associate producer; and refusing to use footage from Brinkworth's documentary in the film, which would have guaranteed a residual payout to Brinkworth."
Here's what happened, according to Brinkworth's complaint: "In 2008, defendants Corben/Rakontur undertook development of a documentary film for ESPN about the University of Miami Football program in the 1980's and early 1990's. The program consists of interviews of former football players and coaches, as well as game and news footage. According to defendants Corben/Rakontur promotional materials, defendant Corben 'will tell the story of how these 'Bad Boys' of football changed the attitude of the game they played and how this serene campus was transformed into 'The U.'
"Due to the anticipated expected negative portrayal of the University of Miami and its football program, the University refused to assist defendants Corben/Rakontur in any way or provide authorization for University employees or agents to take part in the film.
"As a further result of the above-referenced anticipated negative portrayal, and the University of Miami's response and position towards the film, defendants Corben/Rakontur encountered great difficulty with contacting and scheduling former football players and coaches [for] video interviews. Defendants Corben/Rakontur were able to secure only a handful of interviews of former University of Miami players and coaches who were a part of the program between during the 1983-1992 time period that was the focus of the film.
"Based on information and belief, defendants Corben/Rakontur learned plaintiff Kevin Brinkworth (University of Miami Hurricanes, football, fullback, 1991-1996) was producing a short documentary short film about the Miami Hurricanes' last football season at the Orange Bowl in 2007 through an article published in the University of Miami Magazine.
"Defendants Corben/Rakontur contacted Brinkworth and requested he assist the production of the movie in the capacity of consultant. The parties entered into a written contract, effective November 14, 2008.
"Under the agreement, the plaintiff, former University of Miami Hurricane Kevin Brinkworth, would operate as a consultant for defendants Corben and Rakontur. Defendants Corben/Rakontur agreed to use plaintiff's video footage in said documentary and list plaintiff Brinkworth as an associate producer in the film's credits and pay Kevin Brinkworth industry standards for his role in producing the film.
"Plaintiff Brinkworth's duty under the agreement was to act as a liaison and contact between defendants Corben/Rakontur and former football players and coaches of University of Miami for the purpose of obtaining and scheduling videotaped interviews that would be used in an ESPN '30 for 30' documentary titled 'The U' that was being produced by defendants Corben/Rakontur.
"Plaintiff Brinkworth performed his duties under the agreement and successfully contacted, scheduled and booked the interviews of 15 former University of Miami football players and coaches that were ultimately used as footage for the final cut of 'The U' documentary. (Former Head Coach Jimmy Johnson was included in the Brinkworth interviews.)
"On December 12, 2009, 'The U' originally aired on ESPN. The former players and coaches secured and booked by plaintiff Brinkworth made a total 216 separate appearances in the film, which equated to 30 minutes out of the 90 minute film.
"Although plaintiff Brinkworth's contributions to the film were substantial, amounting to 1/3 of the actual footage used in the film, conservatively, defendants Corben/Rakontur breached the aforementioned agreement by refusing to pay plaintiff Brinkworth for his work; refusing to list Kevin Brinkworth's name in the film's credits as associate producer; and refusing to use footage from Brinkworth's documentary in the film, which would have guaranteed a residual payout to Brinkworth." (Reference to an exhibit deleted; parentheses as in complaint.)
Corben also directed the 2006 documentary "Cocaine Cowboys," which told the seedy history of how the 1980's Miami drug trade built the city's skyline and propelled Miami into a major metropolis.
Brinkworth seeks trial by jury and damages.
He is represented by Richard Sharp, with Mallard & Sharp.
Corben did not return requests for comment.