BROOKLYN (CN) – A former assistant to President Bush claims Kelsey Grammer and Walt Disney swiped his screenplay to make the new Kevin Costner movie, “Swing Vote.” Bradley Blakeman claims he gave his virtually identical screenplay, “Go November,” to Grammer in 2006, and that Grammer agreed to star in a movie based on the screenplay. Blakeman says Grammer plays that role – a pompous Republican president – in the new Disney movie.
Blakeman sued all the big names involved in “Swing Vote”: The Walt Disney Co., Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Touchstone Pictures, Grammnet Productions, Steven Stark, Treehouse Films, Kevin Costner, Joshua Michael Stern, Jason Richman, Robin Jonas, and Kelsey Grammer.
Blakeman claims there far are too many similarities between the two screenplays for it to be a coincidence. And he claims he met with Grammer – former star of the TV show “Frasier” – and with defendant Steven Stark, at defendant Grammnet Productions offices at the Paramount Studios Lot in the spring of 2006, when he delivered his script to Grammer.
“At that meeting defendant Kelsey Grammer agreed to develop the work and start as the incumbent Republican president,” the federal complaint states. “It was understood that the copyrighted work would not be used in any manner unless and until arrangements were made for fair compensation to Mr. Blakeman.”
But Touchstone Pictures, a division of Disney, and Treehouse Films released the movie on Aug. 1 this year, credited to defendant writers Stern and Richman.
“The infringing work, which tells the comedic story of an incumbent president and his challenger courting at all costs, and with dirty tricks, the swing vote of Bud Johnson, who by election machine malfunction and his daughter’s doing, will case the vote and decide who becomes the next president of the United States, bears a striking resemblance to the copyrighted work, and can only be explained as deliberate copying on the part of the defendants,” the complaint states. “For instance, the plot line of the motion picture is extraordinarily similar to that in our the (sic) copyrighted work including the work’s unusual ending; several of the characters in the infringing work are identical to those in the copyrighted work; the copyrighted work anticipated a role for Mr. Grammer, which is identical to the role Mr. Grammer plays in the motion picture, and one which he agreed to do in the copyrighted work; and the motion picture recreated events and happenings in and about the White House known to Mr. Blakeman and not to Mr. Grammer, prior to his receipt of plaintiff’s copyrighted work.
“In addition to these striking similarities, the infringing work and the screenplay, for which defendants had direct access through defendant Kelsey Grammer, contain dozens of identical events that occur in virtually the same sequence, as well as numerous other similarities regarding characters, plot and tone.”
Blakeman is represented by Todd Rubenstein with Abrams, Fensterman & Fensterman.