LOS ANGELES (CN) - A representative for the estate of "Valley of the Dolls" author Jacqueline Susann claims in Federal Court that Fox misappropriated the rights to make a TV series based upon the novel.
Fox acquired rights to make a 1967 film version of "Valley of the Dolls," but it lost its chance to make a TV series two decades ago, Encino-based Tiger LLC claims in its complaint.
But that hasn't stopped Fox from trying to make a TV series anyway, the estate manager says.
Fox made a 1981 "Valley of the Dolls" TV movie, secured distribution rights for the original and the TV movie in 1994, and optioned remake and sequel rights in 1998.
The complaint states that through all that, Tiger or its predecessors "reserved and retained the 'Valley of the Dolls' television rights."
"Defendants have been developing, distributing and offering for sale a 'Valley of the Dolls' television series without Tiger's authorization," the complaint states. "Defendants' unlawful exploitation of Tiger's right, title, and interest in and to 'Valley of the Dolls' constitutes copyright infringement, breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing."
Tiger sued Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., and Chernin Entertainment.
Susann sold the movie rights to Fox in 1965, giving it "the limited right of first and last refusal to acquire television series rights," the complaint states. But Tiger says Fox never exercised that right.
After Susann died in 1974, her husband, Irving Mansfield, and her estate entered into a 1979 agreement with Fox to make a TV movie, "Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls" which aired in 1981.
According to the complaint: "In 1992 Fox failed to exercise its right of first refusal for a television series based on 'Valley of the Dolls.' Accordingly, Lisa [Maurer] Bishop, individually and as successor to Ms. Susann and Irving Mansfield, entered into an agreement with New World Entertainment ('New World'). Pursuant to this agreement, New World bought the rights to produce a single television series (the 'New World agreement'). New World and Ms. Bishop produced and ran 65 episodes of the television series," the lawsuit states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
Tiger says that even though Fox then secured distribution rights for the TV movie and the 1967 original, the studio "expressly waived its right of first refusal" and it had no further interest in a "Valley of the Dolls" TV series.
"Tiger's reservation of 'Valley of the Dolls' television rights was again confirmed in a 1998 option agreement for movie rights," the lawsuit adds.
Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels was hired to adapt "Valley of the Dolls" for a television series, the estate manager says. Comcast Corp.'s NBC (not a party to the complaint) reportedly picked up the show last year.
Susann's 1966 book has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
The 1967 movie, starring Patty Duke and Sharon Tate, was also a commercial success, though it did not pass muster with critics. The movie is now considered a cult classic.
Tiger is represented by Patricia Glaser, with Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro.
Fox did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
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