Filmmaker Claims Warner Bros.’ ‘Trouble With the Curve’ Stole His Idea

'Trouble With the Curve' Lawsuit: Filmmaker

A college baseball player turned filmmaker has filed suit against Warner Bros., the Gersh Agency, United Talent Agency, Malpaso Prods., screenwriter Don Handfield, director Robert Lorenz and several others, alleging that Warner Bros.’ “Trouble With the Curve” was lifted from the scripts and concept reel of one of his passion projects, “Omaha.”

Ryan A. Brooks filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday. In addition to copyright infringement, his suit also makes a series of claims including breach of contract, unjust enrichment and racketeering.

The movie’s star and producer, Clint Eastwood, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The suit claims that Brooks’ Golden Glove Prods. in 2005 and 2006 developed “Omaha,” an original screenplay that was “strikingly similar” to “Trouble With the Curve.” It claims that Handfield, the writer Brooks contracted to pen and polish the “Omaha” script, eventually was involved in “camouflaging” the project so that it would become “Trouble with the Curve.” The suit further claims a “conspiracy” in a scheme to cover up the lineage of the project by enlisting an “imposter” writer, Randy Brown, to take credit for “Trouble with the Curve” even though he had but two small writing credits to his name and “was playing in a band that performed at weddings and gigs at places such as Monty’s Steak House.”

Among the similarities that Brooks claims between “Omaha” and “Trouble With the Curve” are that both projects are stories about an aging father, suffering a serious health issue, in the last year of his contract with a baseball organization. He also has experienced the death of his wife and has an estranged relationship with his 30ish daughter.

The suit challenges Brown’s credentials, claiming that he “admitted that he never traveled with any scouts, never worked as a scout or ever formally studied scouts” even though he is credited with a movie set in the world of baseball scouts. The suit notes that he had only minor experience playing baseball and is “not steeped in baseball knowledge by any stretch.” Brooks is a former college player at the University of Texas at Austin, and would have gone on to play professionally were it not for an injury. He then pursued a career in independent filmmaking.

The suit further states that Brown did not register the screenplay until early 2012, just as the project starting shooting.

Brooks’ attorney, Gerald P. Fox, said in a statement that “together with contracts signed by Handfield and testimony from top industry experts, writing analysis specialists and investigators, we have the evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the perpetrators camouflaged Gold Glove’s script, used Ryan’s personal experiences, found a stand-in to pose as the writer and concocted stories to tell the press about the authenticity and origins of the screenplay.”

A spokesman for Warner Bros. said they had no comment, as did a spokesman for UTA. Handfield could not immediately be reached.

UTA and Ferraro are named in the suit as agents at the time for Handfield as well as for Randy Brown. Also named is a producer on “Trouble With the Curve,” Michele Weisler; Lorenz, the film’s director and Eastwood’s producing partner; and Gersh Agency and one of its agents, Jay Cohen. Cohen is named for allegedly being part of a scheme to slap the name of a previous production company on the cover of a version of the “Curve” screenplay “doctored to look like it had been sitting on the shelf for 15 years,” the suit claims.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 26

Leave a Reply

26 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Mark says:

    For anyone questioning Randy Brown as the writer, I was a guest at his home during the Northridge earthquake in the early 90’s. Randy was working on this script back then. He had interest during the later 90’s and early 2000’s but could never get anyone to commit to the project. I suggested Morgan Freeman and Haley Berry for the lead roles. We used to enjoy coming up with potential actors and actresses to play the roles. Randy is huge sports fan so coming up with the concept is very believable if you actually know him. There won’t be any trouble finding people that looked at this script. He had an agent actively marketing the project for him. I’m sure that Mr. Brooks believes his claim but proving it will be difficult since it’s such an old, widely read script.

  2. Lori Glier says:

    In Hollywood everyone works with each other if you want to get known ,you have to show respect within the film industry. I am open fora interview ,Ted.

  3. Jason says:

    This is a troubling case. You would think everyone involved in this project should show more respect.

    Good way to expose the culprits is to question the origin of this screenplay. With all my screenplays, I have a credible explanations as to how I created this idea. Most screenwriters leave behind a trail of their written work to convey its authenticity.

    This is a troubling case. It really makes you think about pitching your scripts to studios or even hiring a writer who may steal your ideas.

  4. Julienne says:

    Bad actor and bastard son of Stella Stevens, Andrew Stevens, blatantly stole a screenplay from writer Jim Fitzpatrick called “Sweet Dreamers,” and retitled it “Elicit Dreams,” taking food off-of Fitzpatrick’s children’s table. Just another example of criminals in the entertainment industry.

  5. David S Furnish says:

    Check Track Record In Prior Exploits “Stolen Idea” Stated Interesting Reading? Clint Eastwood? Other? Best “Idea” Is “No Idea!” yours Victim of “Numerous Theft Includes “Strongroom Global” Especially “Santa Monica?”

  6. Mark says:

    Randy Brown IS THE WRITER!! This script has been in existence since the early 90’s. Randy had meetings with Dustin Hoffman to make the movie but he ended up taking on another project instead. This should be pretty easy to win in court. This script went around Hollywood for at least 15 years.

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for sharing the backstory behind this screenplays.

      The unethical nature of the case will expose those involved in this project. It’s tough for many good writers to create compelling stories. Will be interesting how this case plays out. Screenwriters should definitely watch closely.

  7. Peter Riva says:

    So, what is new? On April 22, 1988 ABC aired a primetime special “WithPeterBeardInAfrica” and in the following month Eastwood’s company asked for a copy of the show on the pretext of hiring our crew (including Mel Stuart and Bertram van Munster) for their Africa shoot for White Hunter, etc. Result? Three pivotal sceens of the show were patently copied for the movie, angle for angle, shot for shot. The Eastwood team were, of course, never heard from again. Not even a thank you. Hollywood.

  8. Bryce says:

    For future reference, the University of Texas at Austin is referred to as just UT. UTA is a satellite school in Arlington, TX, which might cause some confusion.

  9. Real Human says:

    Someone should be suing Kevin Hart and that dog he works with Leslye Headland coz that movie she doing Sleeping with other people is lifted from other people’s scripts.

    • Shameful says:

      Really sad how u gonna rip of a decent hard working woman to promote a whore like that.

      • Real Human says:

        They try to justify it by saying ur this and that and ur being exploited when they are the ones exploiting me to promote dirty little whores.

      • Real Human says:

        The worst part is that is one of the companies I was going to pitch my script to but coz she got connections through Kevin Hart she got in the door and her people used me to help her do so. Disgusting and shes not even experienced either her last job was as a runner.

      • Real Human says:

        I reported it to her agents pfficial complaint if they use me to promote that dirty little tramp again I will do more than send an email.

  10. Laer Carroll says:

    Yet another attempt to scam some money out of a successful film project.

    • The movie was made for $60million and only made $46million worldwide. It wasn’t a success. I’m thinking it was his original idea and it was stolen or else why sue?

    • Dinah says:

      Yet another attempt scam to steal money from the original screenwriter.

      • Real Human says:

        This year I been ripped of by many celebrities and production companies, its their PR people and agents mainly to blame. I could name them and you would be shocked. Its absolutely disgusting how they exploit people.

  11. therimrider says:

    That’s disgraceful. I bet this type of thing goes on a lot. Unknowns send in scripts and novels, hoping to catch a break, and when their ideas are ‘milked’ most don’t have the resources to do anything about it. Disgusting.

    • Jason says:

      This is the main reason Universal Pictures require writers to sign a release form. In my opinion, signing a release form protects them against any future legal disputes involving a script submission.

      Good advice for writers is to keep accurate records of your projects. Save all emails in a folder. Register your screenplays. Be careful who you share your ideas with, because you may be stuned when you find a scene of yours in a film.

      Even writers in college have borrowed ideas from their classmates. Not many film projects seem to be original nowadays. Original movies have spiraled downward since the 80’s and 90’s.

      The studios are probably hungry for new ideas. It opens the door to questionable practices.

  12. Frank W says:

    I’ve written many things in my scripts that elements have come to pass in other’s projects, but I have no direct link to those people. But stealing a whole project? That’s going to be eay to prove if the guy has well documented his timeline.

  13. Bill says:

    Somewhere there’s a script that duplicates most any movie made.

  14. Jim says:

    I didn’t like the movie.

    Just Amy Adams’ body.

  15. Scott says:

    Hollywood lets just pay our writers and idea guys in the first place! http://www.BrokeTv.com

More Film News from Variety

Loading