Monday, December 24, 2012

Did the Estate of Mario Puzzo Make Paramount an Offer They Couldn't Refuse?

In a new development in the dispute between the Puzo Estate and Paramount Pictures, Paramount Pictures and Mario Puzo's heirs agreed to drop legal action that began when the movie studio sued "The Godfather" author's estate to prevent the publication of a sequel to the novel about a Mafia family.

The parties voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit, according to a stipulation filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. No details were given.

According to an article in The Portland Press Herald:

"Paramount said in its complaint that after Puzo died in 1999, the company agreed to allow Bertelsmann's Random House to publish one "Godfather" sequel, "The Godfather Returns," which came out in 2004. The estate published another novel, "The Godfather's Revenge," in 2006, without Paramount's approval, the studio said. Paramount sued after the estate announced a plan to publish a third sequel, "The Family Corleone."
The sequel, written by Ed Falco, was published in May by Grand Central Publishing, a unit of Paris-based Hachette Livre. The terms of an interim settlement reached earlier this year stated that proceeds from the book would be put in escrow pending the outcome of the litigation, court papers said.
Paramount claimed the Puzo estate infringed its copyright with the publication of the novel and infringed its trademark with the design of the book. Puzo's heirs said that the contract between the late author and the studio gave him certain rights, including book publishing."

While the real "mafia" is reportedly a shell of its former self and its various iterations exist on the fringes of a society well aware of its ruthless nature, its archaic and loosely adhered to code of honor (thank you RICCO and automated 25-life sentencing), and its indefensible methods of ensuring compliance with its demands and resolution of its disputes, this present dispute, while reports reflect an innocuous transgression of events, does cause one to take pause and wonder if there is a studio head at Paramount with a headless horse or barely survived an unwelcome visit from a real life Luca Brasi.