Dunaway gets ‘Class’ rights

Settlement of film rights suit paves way for big screen version of Tony-award winning play

Faye Dunaway is free once again to sing her arias on the big screen.

Lester Persky — the producer (“Hair”) who had sued Dunaway and others in a battle for ownership of the film rights to “Master Class,” the Terrence McNally play about the celebrated opera diva Maria Callas — has settled that suit for an undisclosed financial sum.

Under the settlement, Dunaway will own the film rights to the Tony-award winning play, and Persky will be attached to the “Master Class” feature project as executive producer. Dunaway, who plans to star in the film, will also receive an exec producer credit.

Dunaway and Persky each had thought they owned the film rights to the play, which portrays a series of famous classes in opera singing that Callas taught in the latter years of her life. Persky filed suit in fall 1996 against Dunaway, the Master Class Co., American Artists and McNally.

In her capacity as producer, Dunaway said she’ll now start looking for filmmakers for the job of bringing the play to the screen.

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