Fight Over Rights to John Steinbeck Novels


     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – John Steinbeck’s son filed a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office against a Los Angeles literary agency that allegedly negotiated film deals based on his father’s novels.
     Thomas Steinbeck claims he was never informed that RWSG Literary Agency, working as subagent for New York-based McIntosh & Otis, made movie deals for “East of Eden” and “The Grapes of Wrath.”
     The agency was “never hired by the family, nor were the Steinbecks aware of respondents’ relationship with [McIntosh & Otis],” according to the Oct. 11 petition to determine controversy.
     Both agencies are operating “without a license” and RSWG is illegally taking a “20 percent commission,” Thomas Steinbeck claims.
     RWSG negotiated at least one deal, with DreamWorks in 2013, for a remake of “The Grapes of Wrath,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
     The petition was filed pro se by Gail Knight, Thomas Steinbeck’s wife. Petitioners are The Palladin Group on behalf of Thomas Steinbeck and Nancy Steinbeck, the author’s granddaughter; respondents are RWSG Literary Agency, Geoffrey Stanford and Jill Holwager Gillett.
     RWSG Literary Agency attorney William Briggs told Courthouse News in an email: “RWSG is a duly licensed talent agency. RWSG did not need nor does it need a [Talent Agency Act] license to sell literary property since the sale of a literary work does not involve an attempt to either procure or negotiate employment for an author.”
     John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

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