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Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Investors Say Producers Lied About Movie’s Star

NASHVILLE (CN) - Movie producers lied to investors about a project filmed in Tennessee, falsely stating that Kevin Spacey would star as a coach in a movie called "Triumph," the investors claim in court.

"Triumph" is a movie about a teenager with mild cerebral palsy trying to get a spot on his high school's wrestling team, and trying to win over a girl, according to Internet Movie Database, or IMDB. It was filmed in Nashville, Tenn., the website says.

Victor Poteet, Michael Clofine, Gene Salkind and The Workshop LLC say they invested in the movie after hearing about it from David Levy and Rich DeLuca. One email from DeLuca, dated July 17, 2015, said Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey would star in the movie as "Coach Cutting," thereby increasing the film's revenue projections, court records show.

Investors were promised a return of 20 percent within four to six months, according to a lawsuit filed by Poteet, Clofine, Salkind and The Workshop. They sued Levy, DeLuca, Prime 100 Business Consultants, Thomas Nilsen, TNT Consulting LLC, and Triumph Movie LLC in Davidson County, Tenn. court on Tuesday.

The producers said Spacey had been "on set" filming for "Triumph" and they went so far as to present a fake contract indicating the two-time Oscar winner had signed on to the movie, the complaint states.

Poteet invested $120,000 in the "Triumph," according to the lawsuit.

Clofine says he invested in the movie after meeting with R.J. Mitte of "Breaking Bad" fame on the set of another movie. Clofine and Salkin each invested $50,000 in the movie based on Levy's representations, the lawsuit states. The investors say The Workshop also invested $100,000.

However, Spacey was never a part of the movie and his agents sent a cease-and-desist letter to the producers, the investors claim.

"On September 16, 2015, Mr. Spacey's representatives e-mailed a cease and desist letter to defendant Levy stating that Mr. Spacey had no connection with 'Triumph;' that defendant Levy's purported contract with Mr. Spacey was a fabrication and forgery; and that defendant Levy should immediately cease and desist from any use of Mr. Spacey's name," the complaint states.

The lawsuit says "it is evident that plaintiffs will not receive the return on investment that was promised by defendants Levy and DeLuca, and will not receive the return of their investment principal."

"Triumph Movie and defendant Levy have failed to make payroll for the crew and actors of 'Triumph.' Triumph Movie continues to owe funds to vendors of the project as well and has not paid its obligations to vendors as they have become due," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs allege that funds invested for 'Triumph' have been diverted to other purposes, including but not limited to defendant Levy's other film project, 'Absolute Peril.'"

The investors seek $47 million, including $10 million in punitive damages for each of the four plaintiffs. They are represented by James White of Farmer, Purcell, White & Lassiter in Nashville.

"Triumph" stars Mitte as "Mike," according to IMDB. The actor suffers from mild cerebral palsy, just like his character on "Breaking Bad."

No release date is listed for the film. Nobody is listed as playing "Coach Cutting" but the role of "Coach Allen" is played by "Country Strong" actor Reegus Flenory, IMDB says.

A Twitter account for "Triumph" tweeted Oct. 8, "Post production is underway!

Levy told Courthouse News that a disgruntled former "Triumph" employee misinformed the investors and engineered the lawsuit to retaliate against Levy for firing her. "In response, these novice film investors panicked and filed their lawsuit," the producer said.

"The legal process will eventually reveal the documented facts that will vindicate Mr. Levy, but to save time, he is working with the plaintiffs to resolve this matter now," according to a statement provided to Courthouse News.

Levy also said he is preparing to take legal action against the former employee for slander and interfering with business relationships.

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