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‘RAPTURE’ FLAP GOES TO THE COURTS

The first legal salvo has been fired in the “Divine Rapture” debacle. The Marlon Brando starrer lensing in Ireland in July folded two weeks after starting, with the producers crying lack of cash; the production company CineFin blaming its U.S. distributor, Orion Pictures; Orion trying to wash its hands of the matter; and film costar Debra Winger and director Thorn Eberhardt going home unpaid.

Repercussions in Ireland include a slew of debts in County Cork and a government review of its Section 35 film subsidy program.

Now attorneys for a CineFin backer, Brownstone Financial, have filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that more than $800,000 placed by their client in an escrow account as guarantees for salaries on “Divine” and several other CineFin projects has disappeared.

Documents showing escrowed money at Capital Crest Financial, located in Burbank, Calif., were key to persuading agents at Creative Artists Agency to lend their client Winger as co-star with Brando and Johnny Depp.

Other projects for which money from Brownstone was escrowed include “The Dentist,” to be directed by Tobe Hooper, starring Christopher Lloyd; “Some Die Hot,” with Blake Edwards producing, his son, Geof Edwards, helming, and Cary Elwes and Martin Short starring; “The Cull,” a Donald Cammel film, with Rowdy Herrington helming and Luke Perry toplining; and the South African film “The Better Half.”

All of these projects are currently in limbo.

Capital Crest appears to be an elusive entity, and is not listed in the Burbank phone directory. Says attorney Stephen Marks at Mitchell, Silverberg & Knupp, representing Brownstone Financial, “So far as we have been able to ascertain, there is no such company.”

Escrow documents on Capital Crest stationery signed by president Roger Mathews are included in the complaint. But Marks said CineFin chief operating officer David Williams, who arranged the escrow agreements with Brownstone, has been unable to reach Mathews.

On Sept. 8, the court issued an order forbidding CineFin from transferring any assets pending an upcoming hearing. Brownstone’s attorneys will seek a court order to seize assets belonging to CineFin and Williams in order to satisfy more than $1 million in claims.

CineFin and Williams did not return phone calls.

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