Sheriffs brought into pic dispute at AFM

The producers of the low-budget “Hard Rock Nightmare” said yesterday that they plan to post sheriffs at the American Film Market offices of Manley Prods. as part of their effort to collect in excess of $ 340,000 from the New York-based distributor.

Manley Prods. is headed by chairman Walter Manley, a former vice chairman of the American Film Marketing Assn. and current member of its board of directors.

“Hard Rock Nightmare” producers Stephen Baio, Dominick Brascia and Johnny Venokur said their claim against Manley Prods. stems from a $ 300,000 international distribution guarantee from 1990.

Brascia said he and his fellow producers have received “zilch” for the movie since entering into the deal.

Manley Prods. attorney Robert Lasky said the company has consistently taken the position that the $ 300,000 for “Hard Rock” was not a guaranteed payment, but a guarantee for revenues generated over a period of time. The contract also gave the producers the right to re-acquire their movie if it did not perform worldwide, Lasky said.

Last April, the producers took their claim to an AFMA arbitrator, which issued a decision in favor of the producers. In February, the California Superior Court backed up the AFMA arbitrator’s decision and issued a judgment ordering Manley Prods. to pay the claim — a measure that paves the way for the producers to have sheriffs seize Manley’s assets at the AFM, according to the producer’s attorney, Neil P. White.

Lasky said Manley has attempted to reach a settlement with the producers, who were using the threat of sheriff intervention as a wedge in settlement negotiations. Lasky termed the threat a “draconian effort on the part of the producers to bring about a settlement.”

“We’d prefer not to use the sheriffs and (instead) have Walter Manley and his corporation satisfy the full amount of the judgment,” White said. “We don’t want to go through all these steps.”

Under AFM guidelines, a company can be barred from exhibiting at the market if a court-ordered payment is levied 30 days prior to the market. But attorneys for the producers failed to secure the court order before the deadline, which allowed Manley Prods. to continue its involvement in the AFM.

Brascia said the guaranteed payment for “Hard Rock Nightmare” was the original reason for the movie going to Manley. “Whether the film makes $ 1 billion or 50 cents the first year,” the deal called for them to get a minimum of $ 300,000 for the movie, he said.

Brascia said the producers were forced into bankruptcy when “Hard Rock” revenues failed to materialize. The company had previously produced “Evil Laugh.”