Donna Douglas filed a $ 200 million suit against Whoopi Goldberg and Bette Midler, their production companies, Creative Artists Agency, Walt Disney Pictures and others Thursday, alleging the film “Sister Act” was improperly derived from a property owned by the actress and her partner.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claims more than 100 similarities and direct plagiarisms between “Sister Act” and a Douglas-owned book and screenplay.
Douglas, best known for her role as Elly May Clampett in the TV series “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and Curt Wilson, her partner in Associated Artists Entertainment, allegedly optioned the book “A Nun in the Closet” in 1985 and had it developed into a screenplay.
They claim in their suit that the work was submitted three times during 1987- 88 to Walt Disney Pictures, Midler’s All Girls Prods. and Goldberg’s production company, Whoop Inc.
The project was rejected, although Douglas and Wilson claimed offers were made to purchase the screenplay outright. Information on who made the purchase offers was not available.
Douglas and Wilson retained attorney Carl Person, who recaptured the copyright of the 1950s hit “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” for the two surviving members of the group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers.
Reps for Disney and CAA offered no comment. A spokesperson for Midler’s All Girl Prods. claimed no knowledge of the suit. Goldberg’s production company could not be reached for comment.