General News

Allen sues friend

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Jun 11, 2001 | 12:11pm EDT

Woody Allen has sued producer and longtime friend Jean Doumanian, alleging that she cheated him out of profits from the last eight movies they made together, the Associated Press reports.

According to the lawsuit, Doumanian's production company, Sweetland Films, refused to give Allen regular and accurate financial information about his film's earnings. Allen's company, Moses Productions Inc., should have received half the "adjusted gross proceeds" of the movies,he alleges.

According to The New York Times, Allen's business manager, Stephen Tenenbaum, had urged Allen to examine the financial accounts of the films he had made with Doumanian in the 1990's, such as Small Time Crooks and Bullets Over Broadway. At the time, Allen was reluctant to do so because he trusted his friend of 30 years, who had been producing his films.

In May, Allen sued Ms. Doumanian in Manhattan's State Supreme Court, /Woody_Allen/186127>alleging he did not know how much Doumanian and Sweetland Films owed him because he never received any financial information about the film's earnings.

Their first production agreement, dated Aug. 1, 1993, is the only proof of their deal in writing. The remaining five were oral agreements or based on the contract for the first three, the lawsuit said.

Their agreement entailed that Allen earn a salary for each film as well as a percentage of the profits after the film's costs were recouped. Allen's associates, however, reported that the writer/director was willing to enter into a new arrangement, in which he would not earn money beyond his salary until the films' investors were paid back.

Reps for Allen have told the Times that the lawsuit conflict has escalated on both sides. Leslee Dart, Allen's spokeswoman at PMK, said Allen is "very upset" by the rupture of his relationship with Ms. Doumanian.

Robert Greenhut, a producer who worked with Allen on films such as Annie Hall and Manhattan, said, "It's amazing that Woody has taken this long to say, 'Where are the dollars and cents?'"

In response, Ms. Doumanian has denied the charges against her. Her lawyer, Bertram Fields, said Doumanian would supply Allen money for his movies and her story would emerge in court. "To have him turn and bite that hand at this stage is, in my opinion, reprehensible," Fields told the publication.

According to Reuters, Doumanian is moving on with her New York production shingle. On Thursday, she named a new vice president of production, Eric Falkenstein, who will develop and package projects for Doumanian's production company and its emerging-talent banner, Blue Dog.

Even though Doumanian denied commenting on the suit, she told Daily Variety that her own company's growth is a mark of her interest in expanding into other media.

"We want to do more TV," Doumanian said. "There are 500 stations, and somebody has to give them content."

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