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Matthau estate sues Col

Breach of contract seeks at least $1 mil in damages

The estate of Walter Matthau has sued Columbia Pictures, claiming it has been cheated out of profits on two of the late actor’s films, “Cactus Flower” and “California Suite.” The breach of contract suit seeks at least $1 million in damages.

According to the complaint, filed Friday in L.A. Superior Court, Matthau was entitled to gross participation on the two films. But, the suit alleges, Col accounted improperly by reporting only 20% of homevideo receipts, failing to report full cable receipts and obtaining secret profits, among other things.

It was not until May 1999 that Matthau’s production company learned of the alleged improper accounting, after receiving an audit report from auditors specializing in “Hollywood-style” accounting. The compensation agreements date back to 1969 for “Cactus Flower” and 1975 for “California Suite.”

“We’ve been trying to resolve this since Walter’s death,” said Neil Papiano, who represents the estate.

Sony did not return a call late Friday seeking comment.