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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bug Off, Screenwriter Tells non-Partners

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A screenwriter and author claims a Hollywood production company is violating copyright and abusing his name by claiming it's making one of his books into a movie - though he made it clear he "does not want to be associated with them in any way." Mark Frost says Robert Frederick and MVP Entertainment know very well that he denied them rights to his book, "The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever."

Frost, a longtime writer for the TV show "Hill Street Blues," and a co-producer of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks," acknowledges in his federal complaint that he heard the pitch by Frederick and MVP Entertainment, which wanted to make a movie out of his golf book.

The book is about two millionaires betting on a private golf match in 1956 in California, between amateurs Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi, and aging professionals Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.

"Several persons have expressed interest in making a motion picture based on 'The Match,'" the complaint states. "Among these persons are defendants. Although Frost was initially receptive to defendants being involved in a production of such a motion picture, Frost concluded that Frederick and MVP were not the right people to make his book into a movie after Frost met with defendant Frederick in the summer of 2009. Among other things, Frederick was dishonest about his industry experience, said that he had already begun fundraising before any deal was concluded, and he offended several key people that would be a necessary part of making the motion picture. As a consequence, Frost felt that he could not trust Frederick. Frost thereafter advised Frederick and MVP shortly after their meeting that he did not want to make a movie with them."

However, the complaint continues: "Despite the fact the defendants know that Frost wants nothing to do with them, plaintiffs recently learned that defendants are advising the public, including movie studios and potential investors, that Frost is making a motion picture based on 'The Match' with defendants. Specifically, in an MVP Publication entitled 'Corporate Profile 2010' (hereinafter referred to as 'the Infringing Publication') MVP represents that it is presently developing a motion picture based on 'The Match,' and essentially states that frost is working with MVP on the motion picture and that Frost approves of MVP's efforts.

"Defendants' statements respecting Frost and 'The Match' in the Infringing Publication are unequivocally false. MVP is not developing a motion picture based on 'The Match.' Frost is not working with MVP, or anyone else, in developing a motion picture based on 'The Match.' Furthermore, as defendants know well, Frost does not sponsor or endorse anything about defendants and does not want to be associated with them in any way."

Frost adds that "In addition to falsely associating Frost with defendants, defendants also copied portions of 'The Match' into the Infringing Publication," in violation of copyright.

"Plaintiffs have never granted defendants any license or permission to copy anything from 'The Match.' By copying word-for-word excerpts from 'The Match' in the Infringing Publication, defendants are willfully infringing on plaintiff's federally registered copyright in 'The Match.'"

Frost claims he also wrote co-wrote several feature films, including "Storyville," "The Believers," "Fantastic Four," and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer."

He also wrote the book, "The Greatest Game Ever Played," the story of the 1913 U.S. Open, in which golfer Francis Ouimet took on Harry Vardon.

Frost seeks statutory and punitive and exemplary damages for copyright and trademark violations and violation of the right to publicity. He also demands any ill-gotten profits the defendants may have realized, and a restraining order and injunction.

Frost is represented by Jonathan Steinsapir with Kinsella, Weitzman, Iser, Kump & Aldisert of Santa Monica.

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