Puzo family wants Paramount out of 'The Godfather'

Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:40pm EDT
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By Grant McCool

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The family of "The Godfather" author Mario Puzo wants a federal judge to stop Paramount Pictures Corp from making movies based on sequels to the best-selling, Oscar-winning story of the Mafia.

A lawyer for Puzo's heirs, Bertram Fields, said in Manhattan federal court on Thursday that Viacom Inc's Paramount breached a decades-old contract with Puzo by trying to stop publication last May of a new book, "The Family Corleone."

In February, Paramount sued Anthony Puzo, Mario's son and executor, accusing the heirs of approving sequels to the 1969 best-seller without the studio's permission and in violation of earlier agreements. Paramount, the studio behind the Oscar-winning movie version of Puzo's story of a New York Mafia family, said the new book infringed its copyright.

The Puzo family fired back with a counterclaim a month later that Paramount had been given ample notice and asked for $10 million in damages.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan did not make a ruling on the counterclaim following oral arguments on Thursday. She did not indicate when she would issue a decision.

Fields said after the hearing that since it was Paramount that had sued the Puzo estate, the family was disinclined to deal with the studio again.

He told reporters that if the Puzo estate won the case, he expected various studios to take an interest in the rights to future "Godfather" movies.

"I'm sure they would," Fields said.   Continued...