The 83-year-old matriarch of the self-described “First Family of Surfing” says her life story and those of her family aren’t ending up in any proposed $20 million television project that Jennifer Lawrence is executive producing unless who owns what is determined by the courts or some money changes hands. Claiming that the purchased options on her family’s story expired on June 15, Juliette Paskowitz today sued Lionsgate Television and Polsky Films in a breach-of-contract compliant over the proposed “Jennifer Lawrence Television Project.” Essentially, Paskowitz is seeking no less than $350,000 from Lionsgate and the Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans producers if the latter want the project to move forward.
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Polsky Films optioned the story rights of celebrated surf-school founder Dorian Paskowitz and his family in 2010 for $30,000. It subsequently worked out extensions of the option that went until last month. During that time, the Paskowitz patriarch passed away in 2014, and Lawrence and Lionsgate became interested in the project. As correspondence attached to the complaint (read it here) alleges that Lionsgate wanted to see a payment made to the family on the project to make sure the rights were secured. The complaint says the family never got the money and, long story short, that’s why this is now in court.
“As a matter of corporate policy, we don’t comment on litigation,” a Lionsgate spokesperson told me today. While the compliant does not reference the Oscar-winning star of Silver Linings Playbook and the Hunger Games films as a defendant on the potential “high-profile, high-budget and star-studded” series, she is named frequently in the filing. “Defendants informed Plaintiff that Academy award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence is attached to the Jennifer Lawrence Television Project, and on information and belief, Jennifer Lawrence has been engaged in a decision-making producing capacity in connection with such television project, and possibly other capacities,” says the filing in L.A. Superior Court. Lawrence is not attached to appear in the project, sources tell me. The project has been in development for a while at Lionsgate, to which Lawrence obviously has a strong connection because of the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise the studio distributed.
If the plaintiff isn’t going to see any money for the rights to the project, then Mrs. Paskowitz wants the court to declare that all rights to her husband Dorian Paskowitz and the rest of her family belong to her. This is because the “Defendants have failed to validly and timely exercise their Option to purchase the Paskowitz Family Life Story Rights pursuant to the Option Agreement,” says Wednesday’s complaint.
Alan Abrams and Natalie Hottle of Abrams Coate LLP are representing Juliette Paskowitz in the matter.
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