Belushi rankled over use of name

Actor James Belushi has filed a lawsuit against Wilde Film Prods. and Rank Film Distributors for using his name and likeness to promote a film without his permission and thereby create the impression of a glut of James Belushi films.

In a complaint filed Friday in L.A. Superior Court, Belushi claimed he agreed to appear in “Gold in the Streets” for Wilde for “substantially” less than an amount he usually receives because the film was not going to be advertised as a “Belushi” film.

According to the lawsuit, Belushi had other films in production at the time that were scheduled to be released about the same time as “Gold.”

At issue is an April 1996 agreement that allegedly contained the “strict condition” that any use of Belushi’s name or likeness in artwork for advertisement be previously approved by the actor.

He would otherwise have asked at least $1 million to do the film, the lawsuit said.

Belushi said he rejected Wilde and Rank’s request for the use of his name and picture on some proposed ads when they asked permission in May, but the companies used it anyway at, among other places, the Cannes Film Festival.

This “created the perception that Belushi was ‘glutting’ the marketplace with motion pictures at the Cannes Film Festival” and affected the sale of another Belushi film in which other distributors had the right to use his name.

The lawsuit seeks at least $1 million in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages.

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