Lifetime telepic's ads raise ire of 'Crash' guys

“Crash” producers Mark R. Harris, Robert Moresco and Paul Haggis have filed suit against Lifetime TV, arguing that the cabler improperly invoked the Oscar-winning film while promoting its new show “Angela’s Eyes.”

Suit is just the latest in a tangled web of drama over the movie’s credits, including the ongoing complaints between Cathy Schulman and fellow producer Bob Yari. Citing his continuing litigation with Schulman in other arenas, sources said Yari declined to be involved in this complaint.

Billboards around town — and well as other ads — are touting “Angela’s Eyes” as “from the producers of Academy Award winner ‘Crash.’ ” “Crash” producer Cathy Schulman and her Bull’s Eye Entertainment partner Tom Nunan, who is credited as an executive producer on “Crash,” are both behind “Angela’s Eyes.”

Stretching the definition of the credits for the auspices behind a show is standard marketing practice; shows regularly tout that they’re from the creative minds of a hot movie or TV show. But Richard L. Charnley of the law firm Ropers, Majeski, Cohn and Bentley, who’s repping Harris, Moresco and Haggis in the case, believes the phrasing in the Lifetime promos was misleading.

“There were two Academy Award-winning producers for ‘Crash’ — one was Paul, and the other was Cathy,” he said. “Paul does not sponsor, endorse or promote ‘Angela’s Eyes’ in any way. The billboard suggests that Paul Haggis is somehow involved with ‘Angela’s Eyes.’ “

Under the suit, filed late Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Harris, Moresco and Haggis are demanding that Lifetime drop all billboard, Internet, TV, print and radio ads that reference “Crash” in that way.

The suit may already be moot, however: Lifetime is already in the midst of altering its ad campaign for “Angela’s Eyes,” moving to a new campaign that emphasizes quotes from TV reviewers. Insiders expected the suit to be resolved possibly as soon as Lifetime’s TV Critics Assn. session today. The cabler has already removed the wording from its Web site.

Charnley, who said he believed the matter “would resolve itself,” said the parties decided to file suit after several weeks of back and forth between them and Lifetime’s legal team. Attorney Peter Dekom, who originally handled the complaint, first sent a letter to the cabler on June 28.

“It’s unfortunate that the matter got as much traction as it did over the past two weeks,” Charnley said. “We had to file in order to protect our clients’ rights.”

Reps for Schulman declined comment, while Lifetime execs were unavailable for comment.

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