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Why Didn’t Psychic See Lawsuit Coming?

LOS ANGELES - Screenwriter Fred Fontana sued Carmen Harra, a self-proclaimed "psychic," claiming she owes him millions for a screenplay he wrote about her, which she is "shopping ... to potential investors."

Fontana sued Harra, Carmen Harra Enterprises, Global Entertainment Movies, and Siblio & Harra Entertainment, in Federal Court.

Fontana claims he has more than 20 years experience in movies and television, as a writer and producer.

"Defendant Carmen Harra purports to be a psychic, who promotes herself as an 'intuitive counselor,'" the complaint states. "She purports to predict what she sees in people's future and offers guidance thereon. Defendant has been featured in several publications, appeared on television programs, and is the author of six books, including 'Decoding Your Destiny.'"

Fontana claims Harra hired him in December 2011 to write a screenplay about her life, to be titled: "Decoding Her Destiny: The Carmen Harra Story."

She agreed to pay him a $13,000 advance, "and the rest would be paid out of the first monies that were invested in the film," the complaint states. She also promised to hire him as a co-producer, and "additional contingent compensation based on the net profits of the film, as well as revenue bonuses based on the gross revenue of the film," Fontana says.

It didn't go too well. A bank returned her first check, for $10,000, saying there was a "stop payment" on it, he says. "After going into hysterics and claiming that it was all the bank's fault, defendant Harra offered to send another check, but at plaintiff's request, she ultimately deposited $10,000 directly into plaintiff's account," the complaint states.

After finishing the first draft, which Harra called a "rewrite" but which Fontana says he wrote "from scratch," the $3,000 check Harra had given him for the rest of the advance bounced too, he says, for insufficient funds. "Defendant Harra, once again, went into hysterics and blamed her bank." She ponied up the $3,000 "almost a month later," according to the complaint.

Somewhat less than modestly calling his screenplay "exceptional," Fontana claims that Harra reacted with emails calling him "a genius!" and "We LOVED the script and nearly cried reading it, we are so grateful to you!" and "Thank you so much, this is perfect!"

Fontana claims that the original $9 million budget for the movie called for him to be paid $180,000 for the script and $170,000 for his production work. "This budget was based on $5 million to be provided by defendant Siblio, an investor in the film, and $4 million purportedly to be provided by other investors that defendant Harra claimed to have. However, notwithstanding her representations to the contrary, it was learned shortly thereafter that defendant Harra did not have $4 million from other investors."

So, Fontana says, the budget was reduced to $5 million and his fees were cut to $140,000 for the script and $60,000 for production.

He claims that a Siblio representative provided a $1 million check for the film on June 4 or 5, on top of a $100,000 Siblio already had given Harra.

Fontana says he asked to be paid $120,000 immediately, on June 15, for his script, but Harra refused. She said she wouldn't pay him dime one unless Siblio gave her written authorization to do it, but even after she got the written authorization she still wouldn't pay him, Fontana says.

He claims she gave an excuse that "there was no funding for the project," though she already had in hand the $1.1 million from Siblio.

And so on. Fontana claims he did rewrites, as requested, and worked on production, and has been paid only another $5,000 for this. He says he owns the copyright on the script.

Now, Fontana says, he finds that "defendant Harra has been attending film festivals, including but not limited to the recent Toronto Film Festival, and shopping plaintiff's screenplay to potential investors, producers, and other members of the entertainment industry, without any authorization therefore from plaintiff."

Fontana seeks an injunction and more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages for copyright infringement, fraud, and breach of contract. He is represented by Edwin McPherson, with McPherson Rane.

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