January 21, 2008

IT MATTERSCWHETHER A BIO BEGINS WITH THE MAN OR HIS FLAWS:

Lawsuit, not movie, is based on Sammy Davis Jr.'s books: Widow sues ex-business partners who claim rights to star's life story (ERIC TORBENSON, 1/20/08, The Dallas Morning News

Altovise Davis, Mr. Davis' widow, has sued two former business partners in federal court here, accusing them of muscling in on negotiations and falsely claiming rights to Mr. Davis' life story. The suit contends that the two fraudulently enticed Mrs. Davis to sign away some of her rights to her husband's estate and have mismanaged its affairs, allowing Mr. Davis' memory to fade from popular culture.

Joining Mrs. Davis in the suit is Dallas-based Boyar Investments LLC, whose owners, Judy and Burt Boyar, co-wrote the autobiographies Yes I Can and Why Me? with Mr. Davis.

An unnamed Hollywood studio wants to base a Sammy Davis Jr. movie at least partially on the books. Talks with the Boyars, Mrs. Davis and the studio were near completion last March until Barrett LaRoda and Anthony Francis intervened, according to the suit.

Mr. LaRoda and Mr. Francis created Sammy Davis Jr. Enterprises Inc. in 2004. Mrs. Davis agreed to transfer her intellectual property rights to the new company in exchange for a third of the company's shares. The suit contends that the men mismanaged the company, didn't keep records and failed to include her in the company's affairs.

At the heart of the matter is whether the company has any rights to the books co-written by the Boyars. Mrs. Davis' suit says they do not, and hence shouldn't be part of any movie negotiations.

The lawsuit says the two demanded fees and executive producer credits and brought the movie talks to a halt, all without discussing the issues with Mrs. Davis.


Spent the weekend with The Other Brother and we realized that BrothersJudd.com is now ten years old. One of the best things about doing book reviews has been the opportunity to correspond with various authors, many of whom have become friends (at least of the Internet variety). Among them, Burt Boyar has to by my favorite. Sammy Davis, Jr was unquestionably a more complicated man than his public persona, but it would be a shame if some studio just exploited his life for sensational effect rather than Mr. Boyar and associates getting to tell his story as a true labor of love.


Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2008 6:28 AM
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