A judge tossed out producer Bo Zenga’s suit against manager Brad Grey for profits on “Scary Movie” Friday, finding that there was not even enough evidence of a deal to send the issue to the jury.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien granted a motion for a non-suit made by Grey and his company Brillstein-Grey Entertainment at the close of Zenga’s case.
In granting the non-suit, O’Brien found that Zenga was stretching to try to piece together a contract, but there was no evidence of the basic elements of a deal. Zenga claimed he had an oral agreement with Brillstein-Grey to split profits on “Scary Movie.” The judge noted it was only the second time in all his years on the bench that he had granted a non-suit and taken a case away from a jury.
“This case would restore anyone’s faith in the judicial system,” said Bert Fields, who represented Brillstein-Grey. “It involved a splendid, hard-working, decisive judge, an attentive jury, a defendant who had done absolutely nothing wrong and a plaintiff who stands out in many ways among all of the plaintiffs I have dealt with over these years.”
Brillstein-Grey exec VP Jonathan Liebman said: “We decided to take this case all the way to trial on principle. We weren’t going to give in to claims which, as the judge ruled, were baseless.” He added, “We have decided to actively and aggressively pursue all available remedies against Mr. Zenga due to his misconduct in this litigation.”
Zenga’s attorney, Gregory Dovel, did not return a call seeking comment.
Before resting his case, Dovel called Grey as a hostile witness and questioned him about numerous memos and letters referring to Zenga as a producer on the picture. Grey testified that he thought Zenga would serve in some marginal producing capacity.
Zenga did not testify at trial. O’Brien had ruled that he could not take the stand because he took the Fifth Amendment in answer to hundreds of court-ordered questions at his deposition once it was discovered that a screenwriting award he claimed to have won was in a phony contest he set up himself.
Zenga and his Boz Prods. sued Brillstein-Grey in July 2000, claiming he was contacted by Brillstein-Grey manager Peter Safran, asking him to help whip what became “Scary Movie” into shape. Zenga claimed Safran orally promised him an equal partnership with Brillstein-Grey, but when it came time to make a deal with Miramax, which made the movie, Brillstein-Grey told Zenga he was on his own. Zenga got $150,000 and an executive producer credit, but no profit participation. He was seeking $3.5 million.