Kevin Costner is suing his fellow Dances with Wolves and The Bodyguard producer in a dispute over a company the Oscar winner set up nearly three decades ago and was looking to end.
The flap over Good Ones Productions, which Costner launched in 1992, involves his longtime business partner, Jim Wilson, and his failure to give up his rights to the company that Costner was looking to wind down last year. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), the actor claims Wilson refused to sign away his stake in Good Ones.
The pair met in 1983, when Costner landed his first lead role in a movie, the Wilson-directed Stacey’s Knights. Per the suit, Costner says “he never forgot the opportunity Wilson provided for him.” When Costner was up for his first directing job after becoming a star with such films as Silverado and Bull Durham, he offered to make Wilson a producer on that project. Costner didn’t get the helming gig but negotiated an associate producer credit for Wilson, and the two began a long partnership when Costner brought Wilson aboard as a producer on 1990’s Dance with Wolves, which was a commercial smash and earned multiple Oscars including Best Picture, which Costner and Wilson shared.
According to the suit, Costner hired Wilson as EVP of his Tig Productions, which had a first-look deal with Warner Bros., but Wilson “was not a key element or otherwise important to the WB deal.” The suit claims that Wilson “showed no interest” in a potentially lucrative split-rights provision of the deal by which Tig “could ultimately own and control international rights on features films produced by Costner and Tig, which funded Good Ones’ projects through loans. “Rather than take advantage of the WB Agreement and full access to Costner,” the suit claims, “Wilson ignored Tig’s opportunities and focused primarily on his career as a director.”
For the next quarter-century-plus, the suit claims, “Wilson failed to follow corporate formalities, never provided any financing to GOP [Good Ones], never appointed officers (after the initial designation of officers upon the formation of GOP, never materially developed GOP’s projects and was not involved in GOP’s major decisions.”
Last summer, after the pair had not done business together for 12 years, Costner’s reps advised him to “wind down GOP’s affairs and have Tig directly hold title to all development projects,” the suit claims. Because “Wilson was no longer an officer of Tig, it made no sense for Wilson to hold bare legal GOP stock. Accordingly, a simple agreement was drafted in July 2020 to transfer the stock from Wilson to Costner.”
Wilson, however, refused to sign the deal, the suit says.
Costner and Tig also names as a defendant Zeke Lopez, who was among the team handling the actor-producer’s business affairs before becoming Wilson’s personal attorney.
The plaintiffs are seeking at least $15 million in damages, along with punitive damages and a constructive trust on all Good Ones assets and for Costner to be judged the sole owner of Good Ones. Attorney Howard Kaplan of Las Vegas is representing Costner and Tig in the suit, which seeks a jury trial.
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