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‘Steel Magnolias’ Creator Wants Remake Credit

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A creator of the classic film "Steel Magnolias" wants to cancel this weekend's premiere of the Lifetime television version unless the producers give her credit.

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Victoria White sued Sony Pictures Television, broadcaster Lifetime Entertainment Services and its parent company A&E Networks, alleging breach of contract and bad faith in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Unless Sony pays up and gives her a producer's credit, White wants an injunction against the new "Steel Magnolias," which is scheduled to premiere on Sunday.

White takes credit for putting "Steel Magnolias" on the big screen in 1989. She says she bought rights to the story from playwright Robert Harling, financed the project with Ray Stark, and then marketed and promoted the film at home and abroad.

She says she was "shocked and dismayed" when she found out Lifetime and Sony Television planned to broadcast a new version of "Steel Magnolias" on Lifetime and A&E Networks on Oct. 7.

"At no time did defendants, in producing the Lifetime project, even bother to contact Ms. White as executive producer of the underlying motion picture property, regarding her rights to participate in television projects based upon the motion picture," the 12-page complaint states. "The other producer on the motion picture, Ray Stark, has been deceased since 2004. Accordingly, no producers of the motion picture were contacted by defendants regarding their rights as to any television projects based on the motion picture."

White allegedly signed a 1989 agreement with Stark's company, Rastar Productions, concerning compensation and co-producer credit for any "Steel Magnolias" television projects. Sony Pictures took on the agreement after it acquired Rastar in 1991, according to the lawsuit.

White says she is entitled to a $15,000 production fee for the Lifetime remake, a bonus of $10,000, $5,000 per episode, plus net profits of 3.75 percent for "exclusive services," and $3,750 plus 2.5 percent net profits for "non-exclusive" services.

The producers have refused to pay because they say White's 1989 agreement only applied to a previous 1992 television remake of "Steel Magnolias," not the latest version, according to the lawsuit.

But White says, "This is totally incorrect."

"There are no temporal restrictions in the television agreement," according to the complaint. "The television agreement was entered into in September 1989, well before the 1992 television project was ever contemplated."

Herbert Ross directed the 1989 version of "Steel Magnolias," which starred Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah and Olympia Dukakis. The film earned Roberts an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress, but she lost out to Brenda Fricker for "My Left Foot."

Lifetime's remake boasts an all-black cast in the starring roles, led by Queen Latifah and Phylicia Rashad.

White is represented by Franklin Gibbs with Gibbs & White of Newport Beach, Calif. The complaint seeks unspecified punitive and exemplary damages, and profits.

Neither Sony nor A&E immediately responded to emailed requests for comment.

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