What a scumbag studio New Line Cinema is turning out to be. Because of this nugget buried in that legal victory which Lord Of The Rings director Peter Jackson just won during the discovery phase of his 2005 lawsuit to enforce the audit provision of his contract: Back in October 2006, New Line’s counsel produced only “one third of a box” of audit documents for Jackson’s discovery process and claimed that’s all there was. This, even though Jackson’s side had requested communications and documents from profit participant audits on any New Line property: film, television, sound tracks or video games. But, in a deposition, New Line auditor Ken Horowitz described five to 10 cabinets filled with audit records. (I haven’t seen discovery this egregious since the Disney vs Slesinger Winnie The Pooh royalty case.) The federal magistrate on September 18th blasted New Line’s “persistent disregard” of not just the U.S. District Court’s discovery orders, but Jackson’s right to documents “that the court has already determined are relevant to the claims and defenses in this action. Without the true facts, there can be no just result.” The magistrate sanctioned New Line $125,000 and ordered the studio to produce all third-party audits, as well as any internal audits of licensees from The Fellowship Of The Ring, the first in the Rings trilogy which grossed nearly $3 billion at the worldwide box office. A week earlier, the court refused to grant 8 out of 11 summary judgments that New Line had brought in the case. The great irony here is that, while New Line and Jackson litigate, the two sides continue to work on a diplomatic track to solve their differences. “The ice is thawing, meaning the first focus is on having consistent civil dialogue,” an insider tells me. “They’re not near a settlement yet, but there is dialogue.” Yet I have to ask: how can anyone negotiate with prick Bob Shaye? A source concurs: “A PR picture is beginning to be painted, not by Peter’s side, but by the courts.”
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