×

Judge throws out Zenga’s ‘Scary’ suit

Grey case doesn't get to jury room

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content