EXCLUSIVE: Bonnie Eskenazi Of Greenberg Glusker filed the lawsuit this morning accusing Hallmark Hall Of Fame Productions and McGee Street Productions of usurping screenwriter, director, and producer Brad Wigor’s intellectual property rights for a Christmas TV story called The Night Flyer. Sure, a lot of people claim their project was stolen but few attract a pitbull litigator like Eskenazi who, for instance, has repped the estate of JR Tolkien among other clients against this kind of theft. And Wigor is a four-time Daytime Emmy nominee for Children’s Specials. This project in dispute was a family movie about a troubled teenage boy who lives in Los Angeles and meets an angel, then sprouts angelic wings himself, and after a few false starts ultimately uses his power for good during the Christmas season. Read the entire lawsuit here.
“For more than 60 years, defendant Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions has produced an anthology program on American television sponsored by Hallmark Cards, Inc., the well-known greeting card company. Whether due to changing tastes, evolving technology or both, recent years have not been kind to Hallmark,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Faced with declining viewership and languishing interest, Hallmark has become desperate for quality original content. Unfortunately, Hallmark has apparently decided it is more valuable to it to obtain ideas and copyrighted works by theft and deception rather than to develop and pay for truly original programming. In an effort to reverse its ailing fortune for the lowest cost possible, Hallmark and defendant McGee Street Productions Inc fraudulently lured plaintiff Wigor into submitting and developing his original idea into a television movie treatment and partial script for them over a period of months. Then, just weeks before the television movie was green-lit for pre-production, defendants refused to engage Wigor. Instead, defendants simply unilaterally misappropriated Wigor’s Work, using it as a basis for the television movie they planned all along. Even more reprehensibly, and in a devious attempt to cover their unlawful conduct, defendants scrambled to find an obscure literary work with some superficial similarities to Wigor’s Work so that they could pretend the Infringing Project was based on something other than Wigor’s Work. Defendants’ attempted deception is unavailing. It is clear that defendants stole Wigor’s Work for their family television movie without paying him, deliberately infringed his copyrights, and undertook production of Wigor’s movie as if it were their own.”