Who owns the option to the Rat Packer’s life? It seems that Sammy’s daughter may have sold the rights to her father’s story to two different companies and now one of them is taking the other to court for $35 million plus other damages to be determined. In a 12-page civil complaint (read it here) self-filed today independent producer Rick Appling claims he owns the film rights to Davis’ life not Byron Allen and Entertainment Studios. Appling’s complaint alleges contractual interference on Allen’s part, making it almost impossible for the former to make a film about the performer. The producer says he secured a three-year option to the entertainer’s life for $10,000 from Tracy Davis on February 5, 2011, although the documents accompanying his complaint actually are dated February 7th. Appling wants a judicial declaration that he has those rights. Failing that Appling wants a determination of who does actually own the rights in a one-day jury trial. Tracy Davis is not named as a defendant in the complaint. Mere months after Appling and Davis announced their deal, the star’s daughter entered in another agreement with Allen and his company in December 2011. A press release from former comedian and Emmy winning TV producer Allen’s company was issued on the eighth of that month announcing the new deal, leaving Appling broadsided he says. The plaintiff alleges that the Entertainment Studios CEO admitted to him in a phone conversation that he knew Appling had the rights to Davis’ life. Because of this apparent conflict of rights, Appling says his co-production partners Invasion TV and Ampersand Media have expressed “displeasure in moving forward” with the project. A project they were discussing working on with Leonardo DiCaprio’s company Appian Way at one point, according to Appling’s complaint. “As a result of the Defendant’s conduct, and each of them, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer extensive damages which are incapable of precise calculation at this time,” the suit says. Rick Appling is representing himself in the case.
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