Thesp accusing NL, others of contract violation, racism

Actor Wesley Snipes has sued New Line Cinema, writer-director David Goyer and Toby Emmerich, executive producer of “Blade: Trinity,” in a wide-ranging federal lawsuit seeking more than $5 million in damages.

In a suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Snipes alleges that in violation of his contract, the director, screenplay and supporting cast of “Blade: Trinity” were forced on him. He also claims he’s still owed a portion of his fee and that he was harassed and defamed because of his race. New Line declined to comment.

Goyer penned all three “Blade” scripts. According to the complaint, however, Snipes had concerns about him directing the third film in the trilogy and was not informed until six weeks before filming began that Goyer would direct. Similarly, he was not given an opportunity to object to the “juvenile level of humor” in the screenplay and the change in focus from the Blade character to two sidekicks. Snipes claims the real purpose of “Blade III” was to set the stage for spinoffs featuring other cast members.

Snipes blames Goyer for the critical response to the film, citing reviews describing Goyer as a “disastrous choice” and calling the film a “bloody mess.” Film, released last December, has grossed $52 million at the domestic box office.

In money terms, Snipes alleges that he is still owed over $3 million on his fee. Furthermore, Snipes claims that because he was employed by a Swiss loan-out company and the movie was filmed in Canada, he should have been exempt from tax liability. But New Line withheld income taxes and failed to cooperate in obtaining a tax indemnity from the Canadian government. Snipes has had well-publicized tax problems in the past.

Snipes also claims that in contrast to the first two “Blade” films, in which efforts were made to select a multiracial cast and crew, defendants intentionally hired only white people, leading to feelings of isolation and exclusion by Snipes.

He also claims that Goyer made racially motivated statements about Snipes being unprofessional and difficult to work with, and that Goyer refused to discipline a crew member who wore a racially discriminatory T-shirt on the set.

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