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Sorkin sues Fox, Beatty

Inside Move

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The American President,” “A Few Good Men”) filed a suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against 20th Century Fox and actor-producer Warren Beatty for not paying him fully for his rewrite and polish services on the script “Ocean of Storms.”

While the suit names Fox and Beatty, Sorkin claims that it was Beatty who masterminded the overall scheme because of, as the suit alleges, “Beatty’s irrational, incomprehensible and unwarranted personal animus and hostile feelings toward Sorkin.”

According to documents filed Aug. 21 by Sorkin’s attorney, Arthur Ginsburg of Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz, the scribe claims he was hired in February 1996 for a guaranteed $700,000 to do the rewrite. Sorkin alleges he was paid only $225,000 and then terminated because Fox claimed he was late delivering the rewrite for “Ocean of Storms.”

Sorkin claims he missed the delivery date for the rewrite of “Ocean” because Fox, on Beatty’s behalf, had asked him to polish the still-untitled, upcoming “Bulworth Project,” which Beatty stars in and helmed.

Moreover, the suit alleges the two parties conspired to terminate and replace Sorkin on “Ocean” and use the money owed him to pay a new writer.

The suit does not outline the reasons behind Beatty’s alleged dislike of Sorkin, who says he worked, without a separate deal, on the “Bulworth Project.” Fox would not comment on the suit, and Beatty could not be reached.

In May, the suit continues, Fox “improperly informed” Sorkin’s agent that he had breached his contract by not yet delivering the rewrite. The studio allegedly failed to give Sorkin two days to fix the problem as required by his contract. Both Sorkin and Beatty are repped by CAA.

Sorkin went ahead and delivered the rewrite June 12, but was not paid the remaining amount. The suit says he is owed at least $475,000 and seeks unspecified punitive damages.

Beatty has been developing “Ocean of Storms” for several years. Originally written by Ben Young Mason and Tony Bill, the story revolves around an aging astronaut who returns to the space program after many years to recapture his former glory.

Sorkin was involved in a bitter debate two years ago over whether he deserved sole writing credit on “The American President,” which co-starred Beatty’s wife, Annette Bening. Sorkin was granted credit after a lengthy Writers Guild of America West arbitration hearing.

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