Writer-director Brad Wigor has filed suit against Hallmark Hall of Fame Prods., claiming that his treatment and partial script for a Christmas telepic was “unilaterally misappropriated” for a made-for-TV movie in the coming holiday season.
What’s different from other idea theft cases is that Wigor was, according to his claim, far along in the development process before Hallmark froze him out. His suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday, claims copyright infringement, breach of implied contract, fraud, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment. He is being represented by Bonnie Eskanazi and James R. Molen at Greenberg Glusker.
The suit claims that Hallmark and another defendant, McGee Street Prods., “fraudulently lured” Wigor into submitting his idea and partial script for a movie about a troubled teenage boy who meets an angel and eventually gains the power to fly. After a period of discussions and development of the project, called “The Night Flyer,” from April 2011 to February 2012, Hallmark demanded that Wigor step aside as writer and director and told him that he could “take a valueless executive producer credit or be cut out of the project entirely,” the suit states.
“From the outset and at all material times, Wigor made it absolutely clear that if ‘The Night Flyer’ were ever produced, he would write and direct it,” the suit states. “Hallmark’s conduct and communications with Wigor prior to February 2012 demonstrated that this understanding was mutual.”
Instead, Wigor claims, Hallmark and McGee Street proceeded without him or his credit. McGee sent a letter in April informing him that they were developing a movie bearing “many significant and striking similarities” to “The Night Flyer,” but contended that it was based on a 1966 book called “Black and Blue Magic.”
Wigor is seeking injunctive relief, damages exceeding $7 million and punitive damages. Hallmark Hall of Fame could not be reached.