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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

'Guilty' is Charged: Author Targets Yari and Lumet in Copyright Case

Trouble seems to love Bob Yari, the real estate mogul-turned-jilted producer who notoriously filed suit over his credit (or lack thereof) on the Oscar-winner Crash. A new ensnarement has him playing defendant, however, facing allegations that his latest film, Find Me Guilty, represents a “blatant and wholesale theft” of a Newark journalist’s 1992 book.
According to a press release, former Star Ledger reporter Robert Rudolph claims the film is an “unauthorized adaptation” of his Lucchese trial chronicle, The Boys From New Jersey: How the Mob Beat the Feds. But while Rudolph’s protests ironically mirror a Yari-esque level of outrage, this guy absolutely has the market cornered on shrill, strident bitchiness:

Named in the suit, which alleges copyright infringement, misappropriation and unjust enrichment, are the film’s noted Executive Producer, Robert Yari, its legendary Director, Sidney Lumet, screenwriters Robert McCrea and T.J. Mancini, and others. Rudolph charges the defendants with “blatant and wholesale theft” of a book that he “extensively researched, independently wrote, properly copyrighted and published to widespread acclaim.” The book remains in print some fourteen years after its original publication. The film opened on March 17th to excellent reviews but weak box office sales.

So let’s see: Not only does Rudolph reduce the “noted” Bob Yari and the “legendary” Sidney Lumet to garden-variety rip-off artists (much of Guilty‘s script was, in fact, based on court transcripts), but he also impugns their work’s value and staying power like a middle-aged wife taking a drunken swing at her husband. And then there is the crystalline logic alleging “unjust enrichment” from a film that has “weak box office sales.” But whatever–like Yari’s suit against Cathy Schulman and Paul Haggis, it is the prinicple that matters here.
And as perversions of justice go, any film reviewed well enough to get Vin Diesel the green light for a big-budget, three-picture, dead- on-arrival language elephant ride deserves some kind of cosmic retaliation. Do what you have to do, Rudolph.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon