Colpix files cross-complaint against Three Stooges heirs

In what amounts to a “nyuk nyuk nyuk” to two heirs of the Three Stooges, Columbia Pictures has filed a cross-complaint saying it has certain rights to use the personae of the comic trio because it owns the vast collection of Stooge films and shorts.

In a 400-page document, Colpix challenged an effort by Norman Maurer Prods. and Jeffrey Scott Prods. to nullify a contract to produce a feature pic, titled “Three Stooges,” with characters based on Moe, Larry and Curly.

Maurer, a son-in-law of Moe Howard, and Scott, a grandson, filed a complaint last week to end a contractual relationship with the studio, charging that Colpix sandbagged efforts to get the project going.

The studio maintains that it holds the option on the film and has plans to produce it, and that it also owns limited rights to the characters. As owner of several features and more than 190 shorts, Colpix wants to limit borrowed usage of the Stooges.

According to the cross-complaint, Colpix wants to stop an intended Las Vegas live show about the trio. It also targets a planned TV cartoon program called “Wee Stooges.”

Gregg Homer, attorney for Maurer and Scott, called the cross-complaint misleading.

“Columbia’s position is in direct conflict with both the agreement and the facts,” Homer said in a statement. “It’s disappointing that such an historic institution would so blatantly attempt to mislead the public and the court in order to divert attention from the real issues in this case,” Homer said.

Colpix attorney Louis Meisinger had no comment.

This week, Maurer and Scott claimed that Colpix had charged $ 1.5 million in development costs against the Stooges project.

The cross-complaint verified that figure. But additional figures obtained by Daily Variety account for just over $ 1.1 million.

Homer said his office would investigate the potential $ 400,000 cost overrun through the discovery process, but had no comment until that process had been completed.

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