Producer has second chance to reframe his complaint
Producer Bob Yari’s crusade to reform the process for awarding producing credits for the Oscars hit a road block last week when a judge dismissed his suit against the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
The suit claimed that Yari was improperly denied producer credit on “Crash,” which went on to win an Oscar for best picture. The ruling, which technically sustained a demurrer by the PGA, allows Yari a second chance to reframe his complaint.
George Hedges, legal counsel for the PGA, said, “It’s a great result and it’s an important result in terms of the processes used by the PGA and the Academy to determine who’s a producer and eligible for an Oscar.”
Yari’s attorney, Patty Glaser, downplayed the significance of the ruling saying, “We intend to file an amended complaint to satisfy the court’s requirements.”
In a June 8 ruling, L.A. Superior Court Judge Edward Ferns held that Yari’s complaint was based only on his subjective belief of what he considered fair treatment by the PGA but his complaint did not establish that he had the requisite contractual relationship with the PGA to state a claim.
Yari’s lawsuit against the PGA stems from a falling-out with producing partner Cathy Schulman, whom he sued in January, claiming that she unfairly took credit for “Crash” and siphoned money out of Bull’s Eye Entertainment, a Yari-financed company. Before suing Schulman, Yari lost a PGA arbitration over producer credit on “Crash.” He condemned the PGA action in an open letter that ran in both trades, saying it downgraded him from a creative producer to a mere moneyman.
Schulman sued in March, claiming she was fired in retaliation for the PGA’s decision on “Crash” and to prevent her from taking a producer credit on “The Illusionist.” Earlier this month, Schulman scored a victory when a judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing Yari from removing her name from “The Illusionist.”
Just days before Oscar night, Yari sued the PGA claiming that the procedure by which producer credits are awarded is secretive, arbitrary and unfair. He claimed that he was the driving force behind “Crash” and that he was summarily informed that he would not receive producer credit for “Crash” without being given a reason for the denial.
This year, after years of complaints about the out-of-control number of producers on a film, the Academy permitted the PGA to determine producer credits for the picture Oscar. The PGA, which is a trade organization and not a guild, has no jurisdiction to determine credits onscreen or in advertising. The credit issue is only related to which producers can get recognition at awards ceremonies. In his suit, Yari claimed that he was denied the recognition and prestige that goes with being publicly identified as the producer of an Oscar-winning film.