LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A screenwriter hoping to defeat an effort by two production companies to dismiss his lawsuit over film credits for the still-unreleased James Caan-Pierce Brosnan crime drama ``Fast Charlie'' says in new court papers he was willing to rewrite the script based on concerns raised by actor Bryan Cranston, who was considered for a lead role.
Plaintiff Lee Goldberg and his company, Adventures in Television, brought the lawsuit July 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court against Boomtown Media Partners LLC and Fast Charlie Nola LLC, alleging breach of contract and seeking declaratory relief.
``Fast Charlie'' producer Dan Grodnick said in a sworn statement last year in support of the dismissal motion that when presented with the Goldberg script, a number of prominent actors declined to participate in the film, including Viggo Mortenson, Alicia Vikander, Chris Pine, Gerard Butler, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Keanu Reeves, Mark Wahlberg, Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Rene Russo and Michael Douglas. Cranston ``saw potential in the lead character, Charlie Swift, but was not interested in the Goldberg script as written,'' Grodnick says. ``Without the commitment of a major talent like Mr. Cranston to the film, the film simply could not be financed,'' according to Grodnick. When a new and significantly different script was presented that included Cranston's input, Brosnan agreed to come aboard and eventually Caan also was recruited, Grodnick says. But in a sworn declaration submitted Wednesday, Goldberg said he spoke with Grodnick in January 2020 and told him that he would incorporate Cranston's notes into the script ``for appropriate compensation.''
Goldberg further says he had an additional conversation that same month with Grodnick and director Phillip Noyce to further discuss Cranston's notes. Grodnick later called Goldberg and said he and the others ``did not want to make Cranston's requested changes and would look for another lead actor,'' according to Goldberg, who additionally says Grodnick stated in a later email that the defendants were bypassing Cranston in favor of Harrison Ford.
``After my discussions with Grodnick, defendants never reached out to me to do a rewrite nor offer me the opportunity to do any rewrite,'' Goldberg says. The plaintiff says he did not know a film was being made or that another writer was engaged until an article about the film was published in the media in 2022. Goldberg has written for such television shows as ``Psych,'' ``Monk,'' ``Diagnosis Murder,'' ``Baywatch'' and ``Spenser: For Hire.'' According to his suit, he entered a written contract in March 2021 through his company with Boomtown Media to obtain the option to acquire the motion picture, television and ancillary rights to ``Gun Monkeys,'' a screenplay authored by Goldberg based on the Victor Gischler novel of the same title.
The contract states that all monies due Goldberg's company were to be paid to Goldberg if a film was made based on ``Gun Monkeys'' along with credits in the main titles, home video packaging and other areas, according to the suit. Goldberg believes Boomtown assigned its rights to FCN, which in April 2022 began shooting ``Fast Charlie,'' a movie based on ``Gun Monkeys,'' but the plaintiff was not paid the agreed-upon purchase price or provided through his company the first opportunity to make any required revisions to the ``Gun Monkeys'' screenplay, the suit states. Goldberg maintains he is entitled to writing and co-producer credits as well as compensatory damages. The production companies are seeking dismissal of Goldberg's suit via an anti-SLAAP motion. The state's anti-SLAPP -- Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation -- law is intended to prevent people from using courts, and potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate those who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
In their court papers, the production companies attorneys state there is a ``clear and direct connection between defendants' alleged use of the Goldberg script and topics of widespread public interest, including the book, the film, the film's screenwriter and Caan's passing.'' Goldberg did not have the rights to make a derivative work of the book; rather the defendants had the rights to make a screenplay and motion picture based on the book, according to the defense's court papers. A hearing on the defendants' anti-SLAPP motion is scheduled April 22 before Judge Armen Tamzarian
``Fast Charlie'' finished production in New Orleans, but has not yet been released. The film focuses on Brosnan's character, Charlie Swift, who toiled for mob figure Caan for two decades and seeks to avenge Caan's death, which is brought about by a rival boss. Caan died last July 6 at age 82 and was known for playing in films as varied as ``The Godfather'' and ``Thief'' as well as ``Brian's Song.''