The Simpsons voice actor and This Is Spinal Tap co-creator Harry Shearer says Vivendi is treating the profits from his classic mockumentary like a backstage labyrinth and he wants it all sorted out – to the tune of $125 million.
“Defendant Vivendi and its agents, including StudioCanal executive Ron Halpern, have engaged in anti-competitive business practices by manipulating accounting between Vivendi film and music subsidiaries and have engaged in fraud to deprive the Spinal Tap creators of a fair return for their work,” says Shearer in a complaint (read it here) filed Monday in federal court against the French conglomerate. It seeks a jury trial for breach of contract.
If another tale of the Hollywood accounting shell game has you saying, “been there, lost that,” you might want to take a gander at some of the figures the actor — who played bassist Derek Smalls in the Rob Reiner-directed 1984 film — has on hand because they are more shocking than the album cover of the fictional metal band’s Smell The Glove.
“According to Vivendi, the four creators’ share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was $81 (eighty-one) dollars. Between 1989 and 2006 total income from music sales was $98 (ninety-eight) dollars,” says Shearer’s suit of the cash he and co-creators Christopher Guest, Michael McKeon and Reiner were to share. In fact, the original 1982 production deal had the quartet of creators getting 40% of the net profits — considerably more that the less that $200 cited here on a $2.25 million-budgeted film that has easily made millions over the last 32 years.
“Over the past two years, Vivendi has failed to provide accounting statements at all,” Shearer adds in the suit, which seeks to re-gain control of Spinal Tap as well as seeking multimillion-dollar damages. According to Shearer, Vivendi and fellow defendant StudioCanal claim Spinal Tap has never made money.
Vivendi, which took over rights to Spinal Tap in 1989, did not respond to request for comment on the case. .Shearer, on the other hand, had more to say online today about the matter:
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) October 18, 2016
Shearer, who almost left The Simpsons last year over a contract dispute with Fox, is represented by Peter Haviland, Scott Humphreys and Terrence Jones of L.A.’s Ballard Spaht LLP.