Singer-songwriter Don Henley has sued Paramount Pictures Corp. for allegedly reneging on an agreement to pay him $1 million for a song to be featured prominently in “Double Jeopardy,” which stars Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones.
Henley, in a complaint filed Monday in L.A. Superior Court, says he reached an oral agreement last July with Par exec Harlan Goodman.
In a strange twist, the lawsuit also alleges that in exchange for Par not taking the customary half-share of the song publishing rights — a standard custom at the studio — and for Henley not sharing this information with other writers, the deal would be misrepresented as a licensing pact of an existing song penned for Henley’s album and not a work for hire. Also, in this form, the tune would not be eligible for Oscar consideration.
According to the suit, Goodman asked Henley to record a tune called “Soul Reason” and perform in a musicvideo that studio execs told him would be used to promote the film. The song would also be on Henley’s upcoming solo album.
Henley rejected “Soul Reason,” but offered to write another tune for the $1 million fee and sought $25,000 from Par to cover recording costs of the song. The studio was also to contribute $125,000 toward the cost of making a video, the suit claims.
Henley wrote a ballad called “Taking You Home” for the film’s final scene and the beginning of the credits, a prestigious position for a tune. But earlier this month, the suit alleges, Paramount began to assert falsely that the agreement was not final.
“Paramount is trying to avoid its obligations under the agreement because Paramount’s marketing department changed the marketing plans for the movie, deciding to try to sell it as an action/adventure movie, rather than a ‘relationship’ movie, so that a ballad was no longer appropriate as a focus for the marketing,” the suit states.
The complaint asserts breach of oral agreement among its four causes of action.
The suit said Paramount also has refused to pay Henley the $1 million or the additional $25,000 for the cost of recording a demo, the suit said.
Par spokesman said the studio does not comment on litigation.