MANHATTAN (CN) - A budding filmmaker claims the executive producer of "Sherlock Holmes" and "I am Legend" defrauded him of millions of dollars for a film that was never released, partly because of the producer's status as an industry "pariah."
Michael Picozzi sued Michael Tadross Sr. and Michael Tadross Jr. in New York County Court.
Picozzi claims that in 2007 the Tadrosses induced him to stop work on an independent film project and sign on for a film with them, based on Tadross Sr.'s alleged entertainment industry connections and alleged backing from Warner Brothers Studios.
Picozzi says he told the Tadrosses he could invest only $4.5 million in the film, which was to be called "The Bleeding."
He says the project went "$2.1 million over the fictitious budget defendant had improperly concocted," and the Tadrosses failed to keep their promise to cover the excess costs.
Picozzi claims the Tadrosses took "cash withdrawals" and "personal service fees" for themselves along the way, and that Tadross Jr. paid himself $100,000 for "producing the movie."
Picozzi says he was forced to invest "all his savings" and "sell the beach house he was developing" to get enough funding to finish the film.
Finally, he says, not only did Warner Bros. and Sony fail to engage in a bidding war, as Tadross Sr. had promised, but the film was "turned down by every viable studio." The film remains unreleased.
He claims that when he demanded that Tadross Sr. pay "the difference he owed plaintiff for the costs exceeding $4.5 million from the overage, he told plaintiff he had no money, stating: 'I am embarrassed to tell you that I am broke.'"
To wrap it up, the next paragraph of the complaint states, "When plaintiff approached Tadross Jr. about honoring his commitments, he informed plaintiff that contrary to prior representations that Sony, Warner Bros., and Will Smith's production company wanted him to be their partner, in point of fact, 'everyone in the industry hates my father.'"
Picozzi seeks $6.8 million plus punitive damages for fraud and other charges. He is represented by Timothy Valliere with Smith Valliere of Manhattan.
The 26-page complaint claims that Tadross Sr. "has been executive producer on many high-grossing films, such as "Sherlock Holmes," "I am Legend," "Hitch," "Rollerball," "Jack Frost," and "The Devil's Advocate."
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