The more than $10 million breach of contract complaint just filed over Melissa McCarthy starrer Life of the Party may prove a party pooper for the Ghostbusters actress, Warner Bros, director Ben Falcone, the Gersh Agency, agent Sean Barclay, and Brett Ratner and his RatPac banner – or not.
“Plaintiff formally pitched the Concepts to the Gersh Defendants in 2014, and was informed that the Concepts had significant commercial likelihood of success,” the jury seeking suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court says. “At this meeting, the script, ideas, story and treatment referred to herein were discussed and presented to the Gersh Defendants, and details were further discussed at length,” the five-claim complaint adds (read it here).
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Produced by New Line, who are also a defendant here, and distributed by WB, comedy Life of the Party came out in May 2018 and went on to garner a global box office of around $66 million. The film also snagged a People’s Choice Award for McCarthy that year. Providing a breakdown rare in such cases, plaintiff Eva Kowalski is now claiming in her suit that the collection of Hollywood heavyweights had a “secret agreement” to rip off the whole thing from her WGA registered College Mom treatment and script.
Not only does the producer of primarily shorts want a payout of “not less than $10,000,000” but the Lindemann Law Firm represented Kowalski also desires an injunction against the McCarthy and Falcone penned picture. Plus she is seeking “an order that Defendants destroy all materials of every nature and kind in their possession, custody or control that are based on Plaintiff’s Concepts.”
“Defendants breached the implied-in-fact contract by, among other actions, misappropriating, using, and exploiting Plaintiff’ s Concepts and by disc losing Plaintiff’ s Concepts, and producing the hit move Life of the Party, repackaged as Defendants’ own project without Plaintiff’s permission and/or without compensating Plaintiff in the form of payments, credit and other considerations to Plaintiff,” the 13-page plus attachments complaint states.
“The McCarthy Defendants knew that the interference was certain or substantially certain to occur as a result of its actions,” it adds of the CAA-repped Life of the Party star and EP. “The McCarthy Defendants wanted and intended to interfere with the contracts between Plaintiff and the Gersh Defendants, because they would make more money by trampling on Plaintiff’ s rights then including her and compensating her.”
Reps for McCarthy and Falcone did not respond to request for comment. Warner Bros declined to comment on the complaint. Reps for Gersh as well as reps Ratner and RatPac also did not respond to request for comment from Deadline. In that context, it should be noted that neither Ratner himself nor RatPac were producers on Life of the Party and actually don’t seem to have had any involvement whatsoever with the movie.
It should also be noted that Kowalski says she was made aware of the alleged breach when “Life of the Party premiered on May 10,2018 – though it has taken nearly two and a half years for her to take legal action.
While McCarthy is a beloved and respected member of the Tinseltown community, there is no arguing that Hollywood has a long history of sticky fingers.
Having said that, whether the allegation that the Falcone and McCarthy credited flick really came from Kowalski via Gersh and Ratner will be determined by a judge and then perhaps a jury. However, if past such cases are any indication, LASC judges rarely let these cases move ahead very far. They tend to put such projects side-by-side and, in the spotlight, often determine that comparisons at best come down to general themes and plot devises – and that’s no rip off under the law.
We’ll see if that’s true of Life of the Party or not.