“There’s Something About Mary” is riding high with audiences everywhere, but Vince Offer is anything but tickled.
Offer, an indie writer/director who runs Best Offer Prods. in Santa Monica, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court last week against the producers and writers of “Mary,” saying they copied 14 “unique scenes” from his film, “The Underground Comedy Movie.”
Named as defendants are 20th Century Fox; directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly; producers Frank Beddor, Michael Steinberg, Charles B. Wessler and Bradley Thomas; co-producer Marc S. Fischer; and writers Ed Decter and John J. Strauss, who shared writing credit with the Farrellys.
In late 1996, Offer contends, he gave a rough cut videocassette, 80% complete, of “Underground” to Guy O’Seary of Maverick Records with the intention of luring O’Seary’s pal Ben Stiller into playing a role in one of the movie’s unfinished sketches. A month later, Offer said, at a party in Los Angeles, Stiller acknowledged receiving and viewing the videocassette.
Much later, at a screening of “Mary,” Offer said he was “astonished” to see the similarities in the two films, especially scenes and characters he alleges were “taken directly” from “Underground.”
Scenes and characters in “Mary” that Offer said were taken from “Underground” include: the scene of “semen’s Hollywood debut, shown satirically on hair and face”; a serial killer with a twitch who talks gibberish; a psychologist more concerned with his meal than with his patient; the “showing and use of prosthetic testicles and satirical testicular self-injury”; and the “cookie scene,” which Offer said was is “taken verbatim” from “Underground.”
Offer contends the success of “Mary” is “due to the unique, raunchy, offensive and witty material which was taken from ‘The Underground Comedy Movie.'” The pic, produced by Offer and Skyler Andrew, stars Gena Lee Nolin, Michael Clarke Duncan, Joey Buttafuoco and Slash, from Guns N’ Roses.
Attorneys for Fox, which released the $152 million grosser “Mary,” could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit.