Rights over comic strip at center of dispute

A Delaware bankruptcy judge has ruled that Warren Beatty’s suit against the Tribune Co. can go forward. He is suing over the TV and movie rights to the Dick Tracy character.

Beatty had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California last year against Tribune but has been stymied by the media company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

Beatty and Tribune have been engaged in a long dispute over the rights to Dick Tracy, which Beatty made into a 1990 film. In the most recent rift, Tribune alleges that it gave notice on Nov. 17, 2006, that it would take back the rights unless Beatty commenced production on a new Dick Tracy project within two years. Beatty says that he started principal photography on a television special on Nov. 8, 2008, but Tribune claims that the actor-director produced no evidence that such a project had begun.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin J. Carey noted in his opinion that Beatty introduced evidence to the court that the special was under way, including an agreement with Turner Classic Movies. “This is sufficient, under the circumstances, to support a slight showing of the probability of success on the merits,” Carey wrote.

Carey did deny Beatty’s request to dismiss a competing lawsuit that Tribune filed in bankruptcy court.

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