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Coppola lawyer tesifies there was no deal at WB

Hirsch sez helmer was free to shop 'Pinocchio'

Powerhouse lawyer Barry Hirsch testified Friday on behalf of longtime client Francis Ford Coppola in the helmer’s $22 million “Pinocchio” suit against Warner Bros.

Coppola claims there was no agreement with the studio, that he was free to shop the project elsewhere and that Warners unfairly squelched a new deal with Columbia Pictures. Warners maintains that both sides understood there was an agreement, despite no signed contract, and that Coppola had no right to shop “Pinocchio.”

Hirsch testified that he had told Warners reps that it was “absolutely essential” that Coppola direct “Pinocchio,” and that he be free to take the project elsewhere if they couldn’t reach a deal.

But during cross-examination, Warners attorney J. Larson Jaenicke demonstrated that Hirsch’s office had kept a longform producing agreement at his office for 16 months, annotated but unsigned.

Prior to the trial, L.A. Superior Judge Madeleine Flier had ruled that both a Certificate of Employment Coppola had signed and the never-signed producing agreement were unenforceable.

Nevertheless, she has allowed Warners to put on evidence at trial that it had a good-faith belief it had a deal.