MILWAUKEE (CN) – A Milwaukee man says he was conned into investing $800,000 in a musical project called “The Shirelles” by writer-director Floyd Mutrux and Academy Award-winning producer Jonathan Sanger, who “had no intention of honoring the promises and representations” they made.
Michael Drescher claims that Mutrux and Sanger assured him that the project was “fully capitalized” and that a host of Hollywood stars wanted to invest in it, “specifically naming Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Dan Ackroyd, Rod Stewart, Burt Bacharach, Michael Eisner,” and others – none of whom are parties to this complaint in Milwaukee Federal Court.
According to industry publications, Mutrux got a screenplay credit for “Mulholland Falls” and was an executive producer for “Dick Tracy,” and Sanger was a producer for “The Producers” and “The Elephant Man.”
Drescher says they violated federal securities laws to defraud him of $800,000.
Drescher says Mutrux approached him in 2007 to pitch a “jukebox musical” about the Shirelles, and promised that with an initial investment of $200,000 Drescher would own 3 percent of “all things Shirelles” and have “full financial audit rights.” Within 3 months, however, Drescher says Mutrux spent his money and then some – $1.2 million – and could not prove where the money went.
Drescher says that when he asked to see the books, Mutrux became furious and said he had none.
Within a few weeks, Drescher says, Mutrux hooked up with Sanger. Drescher says Mutrux transferred his rights in “The Shirelles” to defendant Baby It’s You LLC, but kept 72 percent interest.
Mutrux and Sanger urged Drescher to invest another $600,000 in Baby It’s You, claiming that the show was “guaranteed to make a fortune” and that the Hollywood stars were lining up to get in on it.
Drescher says he was told that now that Sanger was involved, he would be able to recover his initial investment and become “a part of the family.” He says he was told that $200,000 of his new money would be kept in a separate account for a future jukebox musical series known as “American Pop Anthology,” and he wouldn’t have to worry about his money being diverted a second time.
Drescher says he fell for it. He says Mutrux and Sanger called him at his Milwaukee home on straight days in a row, promising him complete authority to manage the business and authorize project expenditures, along with well-kept, up-to-date records and the largest share of profits of any investor in “Baby It’s You” or “American Pop Anthology.”
He says they exploited his lack of sophistication “in the workings of the theatrical industry,” and waltzed with his money.
Drescher says they refused to return it, but have mounted the show, which according to the babyitsyouthemusical.com Web site, had its premiere at The Pasadena Playhouse in November.
In an a story in “Hollywood Interview,” Mutrux claims that Broadway is a logical step in the show’s progression, and says plans are rolling for the “American Pop Anthology” series.
Defendants include Northern Lights Inc. and Joncar Productions.
Drescher seeks punitive damages for fraudulent misrepresentation, conversion, theft, unjust enrichment and other charges. He is represented by Jules Zalon of West Orange, N.J.