Novel was released Tuesday but litigation continues

Paramount and the Mario Puzo estate have reached an interim agreement that allows for the distribution of a “Godfather” sequel novel, but both sides are continuing their litigation over the rights in a New York federal court.

Richard Kendall, who represents Paramount, said that he informed the federal judge at a hearing Friday that will permit publication of “The Family Corleone,” with funds that the Puzo estate already received or would receive placed in escrow pending resolution of their dispute. The Ed Falco-penned “The Family Corleone,” based on an unproduced Puzo screenplay, was released on Tuesday from Grand Central Publishing.

Paramount sued the Puzo estate in February, claiming that the heirs to the famed author allowed publication of “The Godfather’s Revenge” and “The Family Corleone” without its permission. The studio claimed that a 1969 agreement between Paramount and Puzo gave the studio all rights to “The Godfather” novel except publication rights in that original novel.

But the next month, the estate fired back, filing a countersuit in U.S. District Court in New York claiming the studio breached its contract with the author and seeking the termination of the 1969 agreement. The estate claims that Puzo retained those literary rights in the agreement and charges that Paramount’s “self-serving motivation was to coerce Puzo’s children into ceding to Paramount the motion picture rights in the first sequel novel without compensation.”

The first sequel novel, “The Godfather Returns,” was published in 2004.

Bert Fields, representing the Puzo estate, could not immediately be reached.

The author died in 1999.

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