After several years of litigation, writer-producer Michael Viner and his spouse and business partner thesp-producer Deborah Raffin have regained ownership of the complete Newstar Media Inc. Classics and Children’s Audio Libraries.
The couple will take those titles as well as a significant share of the business, science, poetry, book, music and film libraries consisting of more than 300 titles from Newstar and transfer them individually back to them. They will form a new company with the library.
In 1997, Newstar absorbed Dove Audio, a company founded by Viner and Raffin in 1985 that wentpublic in 1995. The terms of the Viners’ ownership agreement were finalized in the past two weeks after lengthy legal proceedings. Peviously existing non-competition provisions between the Viners and Newstar have been terminated.
“Deborah and I are just ecstatic about this,” Viner said. “It’s such a relief to have all of this litigation behind us, and we cer-tainly wish Newstar all the best.”
The Classics Series, which the Viners have regained in full, includes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries and H.G. Wells’ library read by Ben Kingsley; Paul Scofield reading major works by Charles Dickens; Glenda Jackson reading all of the works by the Bronte sisters; and Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” read by Carl Reiner.
The Children’s Series, which the Viners also have complete ownership of, includes numerous Grammy winners and Parents Choice nominees, including Audrey Hepburn reading “Enchanted Tales” and Sandy Duncan reading “Peter Pan.”
Other library selections re-acquired by the Viners include the book and audio libraries of bestselling business writer Mark H. McCormack, science library selections such as Timothy Ferris’ “Stephen Hawking’s Universe” and James Gleick’s “Faster,” as well as works by 20th century American authors F. Scott Fitzgerald and Bret Harte. Readers in the various libraries include Robin Williams, Burt Reynolds, Meryl Streep, Sharon Stone, Orson Welles.
Virtually all of the recordings that the different libraries are comprised of were produced and/or executive produced by Raffin and/or Viner, who plan to get back to work on new projects for their fledgling company in the near future.
“A number of different people have come to us about projects,” says Viner. “There’s a whole myriad of opportunity out there that we’ll be thinking about. This is really a very exciting time for us.”