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Duking it out with WB

Waldron says he's entitled to 6.5% of pic's gross profits

The lawsuit-plagued hit film “Dukes of Hazzard” is in court again.

Suing this time is Gy Waldron, the creator and original writer of the “Dukes of Hazzard” television series. Waldron is represented by attorney Marc Toberoff, who obtained the jaw-dropping $17.5 million rights settlement from Warner Bros. earlier this summer for the producers of “Moonrunners,” the film upon which the hit ’70s television series was based. Waldron also directed “Moonrunners.”

According to the complaint, which was filed Thursday in L.A. Superior Court, Waldron claims that as the result of a prior settlement agreement, he is entitled to 6.5% of gross profits from the exploitation of the Dukes series, including the film. The surprise summer hit has grossed $77 million at the domestic box office.

A Warner Bros. spokesman said the studio had no comment.

As outlined in the Waldron complaint, which alleges breach of contract and fraud, Waldron sued Warner in 1980 in an accounting dispute over profits on the series. That suit was settled, but Waldron sued again in 1983, claiming royalties on the series were being underreported. In a 1987 settlement, Waldron received cash and a profit participation. According to the complaint, Warner has taken the position that revenue from a film was not included in the agreement.

The “Dukes” film cost an estimated $55 million to make, and Warner already has paid $17.5 million to settle this summer’s copyright action involving the film. In that case, the producer of “Moonrunners,” the 1974 film on which the series was based, sued Warner for copyright infringement, claiming that while the studio owned the television rights, it had never obtained the movie rights. After a federal judge granted the producers a preliminary injunction that would have cancelled the August premiere of the film, Warner hurriedly settled.

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