Godfather Lands in Court
‘Godfather’ novel published Paramount and Puzo estate files suit
Proceeds from latest story related to Mario Puzo’s novel “The Godfather”, the prequel titled The Family Corleone, published this week will be put in escrow while Paramount Pictures and the late novelist’s estate pursue litigation over the publishing rights.
“An interim agreement allows publication of the novel to go forward, pending resolution of this matter,” Richard Kendall, a lawyer for Los Angeles-based Paramount, said at a hearing today in Manhattan federal court.
Paramount, a unit of New York-based Viacom Inc., (NYSE:VIA-B) sued Anthony Puzo, Mario’s son and the executor of his estate, in February to prevent the publication of a 3rd novel related to “The Godfather,” claiming that it is not authorized.
Mr. Puzo countersued in March, saying that Paramount disregarded contractual promises to his father and breached a Y 1969 agreement. Mr. Puzo said the contract between the late author and the studio excludes book publishing rights.
“It’s a question of fact, of how much importance it was to Mr. Puzo to reserve publishing rights,” Bertram Fields, a lawyer for the writer’s son, told US District Judge Alison Nathan today. “We are seeking cancellation of the contract.” The parties will work to resolve the dispute in mediation, the lawyers said.
Paramount said in its complaint that after Mario Puzo died in Y 1999, the company agreed to allow Bertelsmann AG’s Random House to publish 1 Godfather sequel, “The Godfather Returns” in Y 2004.
The estate published a 2nd novel, “The Godfather’s Revenge,” in Y 2006 without Paramount’s approval, the studio said.
Paramount said the estate informed it last year of plans to publish a 3rd novel.
That volume, “The Family Corleone” by Ed Falco, was published on 8 May, according to the website of Grand Central Publishing.
The 1st “Godfather” film came out in Y 1972 and won Academy Awards for best picture and for best adapted screenplay, for which Mario Puzo shared credit. Francis Ford Coppola directed the 3 Godfather movies.
Judge Nathan said she may hear oral arguments on Paramount’s motion to dismiss the Puzo counterclaims this Summer.
The case is Paramount Pictures v. Puzo, 12-01268, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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