Par, Buchwald settle ‘America7 suit

Scribe Art Buchwald has landed $1 million by settling his suit against Paramount Pictures over net profits owed him from the film “Coming to America.”

The settlement closes the final chapter on the litigation, in which a trial court in 1992 ruled that the Eddie Murphy film was based on a two-page treatment written by Buchwald and cowriter Alan Bernheim.

“Our settling has nothing to do with who was right or wrong in the case,” an unnamed studio exec is quoted in a statement released Sept. 12 by Par. “Our new management is artist-friendly. We want a successful working relationship with the creative community and to avoid disputes with them wherever possible.”

Ironically, the settlement announcement came the same day scribe Jack Engelhard claimed Par has failed to pay him a bonus stemming from the success of “Indecent Proposal,” the film based on his book.

In a statement, Par did not dispute the accounting and added it will continue to fully comply with the provisions of Engelhard’s contract.

Despite grossing more than $250 million worldwide, according to Paramount “Indecent Proposal” is $37.5 million in the red.

The Buchwald suit, filed in 1988, challenged the status quo, since it demanded an examination of the industry’s definition of net profits as it pertained to writers. Engelhard’s claims raises doubts whether much has changed in the past seven years.

During the Buchwald trial, attorneys for Paramount initially denied the film was based on Buchwald’s idea.

The studio also claimed that even if Buchwald had conceived the premise, under his contract with the studio, he was not entitled to any compensation because the film had yet to generate any profits. “Coming to America” grossed $128 million domestically.

Par appealed the judgment, which awarded Buchwald and Bernheim $900,000 in damages and $120,000 in attorneys fees.

As part of the settlement, the studio has petitioned the California Court of Appeals to dismiss its appeal of the trial court’s verdict.

The case will now return to L.A. Superior Court, where attorneys for Buchwald and Bernheim will file their motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Par attorney Bert Fields and Buchwald’s attorney Pierce O’Donnell declined comment on the settlement.

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