×

‘Professor and the Madman’ Director Accuses Producer of Ireland Film Tax Fraud

The director of the troubled dictionary film “The Professor and the Madman” is accusing the producer of trying to defraud Ireland’s tax rebate program.

Farhad Safinia is locked in a battle with Voltage Pictures over the unfinished film, which stars Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, and chronicles the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Gibson and Safinia have accused Voltage of failing to shoot essential scenes at Oxford, opting instead to save money by shooting at Trinity College Dublin. Safinia is pursuing a copyright lawsuit in federal court, accusing Voltage of exploiting the screenplay without his permission.

In a new filing on Thursday, Safinia’s attorneys ask the court to allow them to question Voltage executives about the film’s expenses and its rebate applications to the Irish Film Board. Ireland offers a generous 32% rebate to productions that spend more than $307,000 there.

Safinia alleges that producer Zev Foreman asked Safinia to take a grossly inflated fee, and then rebate the excess portion of it back to Voltage in a “sham transaction.” According to Safinia, the aim of the scheme was “inflating the costs of the production in Ireland, and thus increasing the rebate amount.”

“Mr. Safinia will show this indecent proposal also informed his ultimate decision not to give Defendants his permission to make and sell a film derived from his screenplay,” the motion states.

Safinia contends that although he refused the arrangement, others consented to it, and he intends to prove the allegation at trial.

Safinia’s attorneys tried to ask Foreman and Dominic Rustam, the head of production at Voltage, about the production’s Ireland tax rebates at their depositions. Rustam and Foreman refused to answer, on advice of counsel who argued that the questions are irrelevant to Safinia’s suit.

Voltage’s attorney, Jeremiah Reynolds, denied Safinia’s allegations.

“My clients deny this false and defamatory accusation,” Reynolds said. “If Mr. Safinia was truly concerned about an ‘Irish tax rebate scheme,’ why did he go forward with directing the movie? The answer is there was no scheme and this has been made up.”

The Professor and the Madman” is expected to be released this fall.

More Biz

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial and Verdict

    Harvey Weinstein Taken to Bellevue Hospital With Chest Pains

    Harvey Weinstein was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan on Monday after complaining of chest pains, according to his representative. Weinstein was supposed to be transferred to the jail on Rikers Island, but was diverted to Bellevue. Weinstein was remanded into custody on Monday morning after a jury convicted him on charges of sexual assault [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial and Verdict

    Weinstein Guilty Verdict Sends a Message to Victims and Prosecutors

    The verdict in the Harvey Weinstein trial will send a message to victims and prosecutors that difficult cases can be won, legal experts said on Monday. Weinstein was convicted on Monday morning of committing a “criminal sexual act” and third-degree rape, following a six-week trial in New York Supreme Court. He faces five to 25 [...]

  • Tarana Burke

    #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke on Weinstein Verdict: 'Implications Reverberate Far Beyond Hollywood'

    Tarana Burke, the activist who founded the “Me Too” movement, issued a statement in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s conviction on Monday. Burke begins her statement by saying, ““Today, a jury confirmed what we all know: Harvey Weinstein committed sexual assault.” She then decries the “incredibly narrow and unjust set of laws governing sexual assault,” blaming [...]

  • Vanessa Bryant, wife of Kobe Bryant

    Vanessa Bryant Remembers Husband Kobe and Daughter Gianna in Touching Memorial Tribute

    Vanessa Bryant held back tears as she paid emotional tribute to her late husband and NBA legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna at a memorial service held at the Staples Center on Monday. Vanessa began her touching speech by remembering her 13-year-old daughter, who she says was “a sweet soul,” and reflected on their friendship. [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial and Verdict

    Harvey Weinstein Accusers React to Rape Conviction: 'We're Never Going Back'

    Validation, relief, gratitude and pride — those were some of the emotions expressed by a group of women who came forward with allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Harvey Weinstein in response to the disgraced producer’s conviction on Monday for rape and sexual assault. The group of more than 20 women held a [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein arrives at a Manhattan

    Hollywood Reacts to Harvey Weinstein Verdict: 'I Hope the Handcuffs Are Tight'

    Harvey Weinstein, once regarded as one of the most influential forces in the film industry, was found guilty of committing a “criminal sexual act” and third-degree rape on Monday morning. He was acquitted on two counts of predatory sexual assault. The verdict comes two years after more than a dozen women accused Weinstein of sexual [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content