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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Sonny Barger Sues TV Producer & HBO

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Sonny Barger, a founder of the Oakland branch of the Hells Angels, claims producer Michael Tolkin and Home Box Office cheated him of his rights to a TV pilot called "1%," which is based on a book in Barger's "fiction franchise" about a motorcycle club.

Barger claims Twentieth Century Fox optioned his 2000 autobiography, "Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club," and hired Tolkin to write a screenplay of it in 2003.

In his federal complaint, Barger claims he and his corporation, Sonny Barger Productions, have developed "a fiction franchise" and have produced three books in a series about a fictional motorcycle club and a hero, Patch Kinkade.

Tolkin allegedly began a screenplay based on the first book in the series, "Dead in 5 Heartbeats," and delivered the first 45 pages of it to Barger in 2006. He claims that he and Tolkin pitched the project to HBO, which rejected it, then eventually accepted, or expressed interest in the "1%" project, which HBO now claims is wholly Tolkin's work.

Barger also says he objects to many elements in the screenplay, which he feels is based too closely upon his life. He says that Tolkin and HBO published casting notices and promo material in the April 11 issue of "Variety," and stated there "that Sonny Barger has been cast in the '1%' program."

Barger demands damages for copyright and trademark infringements, unjust enrichment and other charges. He is represented by Fritz Clapp of Kihei, Maui.

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