×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Court gets an earful of yoga speak

Scribe sues over vidgame

A correction was made to this article on Nov. 18, 2004.

Welcome to Hollywood, Microsoft.

Helmer-scribe Roger Avary, a one-time collaborator with Quentin Tarantino, sued the tech giant for $30 million on Monday, claiming its Xbox “Yourself!Fitness” title is a rip-off of a yoga vidgame concept he pitched the company last year.

“Yourself!Fitness” was published by Portland, Ore.,-based ResponDesign, also named as a defendant. Suit alleges that Microsoft took the idea to the company to produce it as a female-friendly title for the vidgame console.

Title is a virtual personal fitness trainer that guides users through workouts. It was first released in October for Xbox, and versions for PCs and Sony’s Playstation2 are in the works.

“Yourself!Fitness” generated largely positive reviews, but hasn’t been a top seller; no exact sales figures are available.

As Microsoft and other tech companies continue to prowl the Hollywood creative community for ideas for videogames and the Web, such suits alleging idea theft could become as commonplace as they are for films and TV.

Of course, Microsoft is a veteran of numerous intellectual property cases in the tech world, including a long-running dispute (now settled) with Apple about whether Windows ripped off its Macintosh system.

Avary’s attorney George Hedges, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, said the lawsuit, which was filed in Superior Court in L.A., is rooted in a cultural divide that separates Hollywood and the tech world.

“For years, Silicon Valley has been reaching out to the Hollywood creative community, and this shows that it can sometimes have some unfortunate results,” he said. “There’s something cultural going on here with Microsoft that doesn’t smell right.”

A Microsoft spokesperson said she hadn’t seen the suit and couldn’t comment, but ResponDesign CEO Ted Spooner stated, “This suit doesn’t have any basis in reality that we know of.”

Avary’s suit alleges that he was sought out by Microsoft as part of a relationship the tech company and his agency CAA had developed. In their first meeting, Avary says Microsoft was hunting for games that could appeal to women.

Afterwards, Avary, whose wife teaches yoga, said he immediately zeroed in on the trendy exercise.

His concept, according to the complaint, was to turn the Xbox into “a means of allowing the individual player to develop body shape and fitness, and ultimately to participate in exercising in a virtual studio that would be a shared experience with multiple other participants at remote locations.”

After first pitching the concept at CAA’s offices in January 2003, Avary said that he drew up several documents fleshing out how the game would work. Meanwhile, the suit claims Avary’s agents and Microsoft unsuccessfully attempted to come to terms on a deal for developing the game, with contact breaking off in September of that year.

He then found out about “Yourself!Fitness” in a New York Times article in May. According to the suit, when CAA complained on Avary’s behalf, Microsoft responded that the game had been developed independently by ResponDesign and any similarities to Avary’s yoga proposal are completely coincidental.

Avary said this is not the typical case of a screenwriter claiming someone stole the idea for his script. “I consider this a bit different. They came to me, we met, we developed the concept together to put before their peer review and focus groups and they then went off and developed it with a third party.”

Avary’s most recent film credit was as helmer and scribe on 2002’s “The Rules of Attraction,” an adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name. He recently agreed to pen a film adaptation of the Konami vidgame “Silent Hill” for producer and financier Samuel Hadida (Daily Variety, Oct. 20).

Avary began his career as a collaborator with Tarantino. He received a story credit on the Oscar-winning script for “Pulp Fiction.”

More Scene

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content