‘Ray’ Producer Sues His Angel for $9 Million

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Movie producer Stuart Benjamin claims investor Maurice Grant promised but failed to deliver $9 million to help Benjamin turn his movie “Ray,” about the life of Ray Charles, into a Broadway show. He claims Grant persuaded him not to let other angels into it, and then repeatedly bounced checks, forcing the show’s opening to be delayed.

     Benjamin sued Grant, Quintessential Financial Group, Solano Management, and 98 Leonard Avenue Condo Association, in Superior Court.
     “Benjamin was introduced to Grant as a potential investor in the play depicting the life and music of Ray Charles,” according to the complaint. “Benjamin, who was based in the Los Angeles area, spent several weeks in telephonic negotiations with Grant.”
     Benjamin claims that on Oct. 27, 2009, Grant agreed to invest $9 million in the proposed Broadway show. Backers of Broadway shows are known as angels in the show biz world.
     “When the agreement was being negotiated between Benjamin and Grant, Benjamin informed Grant that other potential investors were interested in participating in the play,” the complaint states. “Grant said that he did not want any additional investors. Instead, Grant told Benjamin that he would invest the entire $9 million of remaining capital needed to get the Play to Broadway.”
     Benjamin claims that Grant sent him a check for $150,000, which bounced.
     Benjamin claims that forced him to spend $30,000 of his own money for the production. He claims that “Grant assured Benjamin that it ‘was just a glitch’ and would be taken care of immediately.”
     The complaint adds: “A critical payment of $2 million was due on February 23, 2010. Grant never made the payment.” Benjamin claims that in March, Grant deposited a check for $500,000 from the account of the 98 Leonard Avenue Condo Association, but that one bounced too.
     “By July 2010, Grant had failed to make over $6 million in investment payments. He also failed to make good on promises to Benjamin that funding would be imminent. But Grant continued to spin tails [sic] to induce Benjamin to continue relying on his financing promises.”
     But it was too late, Benjamin says. He had to tell the Broadway theater owners that the show could not open on time.
     He seeks compensatory damages of $20 million and punitive damages, alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. He is represented by Mira Hashmall with Miller Barondess.

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