Legal battle erupts over film rights to Tupac's bio

Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:39am EST
 
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By Steven Zeitchik and Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Film production company Morgan Creek is in a legal turf war with the estate of Tupac Shakur.

The Rick Nicita-topped production house has sued Amaru Entertainment, the company run by Afeni Shakur, the late rapper's mother and executor, alleging in a Los Angeles Superior Court filing that the company has backed out of an agreement to sell his life rights for a film adaptation.

Negotiations between Morgan Creek and Amaru began in November for life rights that would form the basis of the untitled project.

Life rights and collaboration with an executor are not always necessary with a public figure like Shakur, though they would be essential if the filmmakers hope to include music, as they would in this case.

According to the complaint, a written contract was in place for life rights, with Morgan Creek claiming that Amaru is "refus(ing) to honor and perform a contract of a production of the film based on the life of Tupac Shakur." The company seeks damages and other relief.

But late Wednesday, Amaru's lawyers denied the existence of a deal.

"There is no agreement with Morgan Creek, there never was, and there never will be," said Amaru attorney Skip Miller, adding that the court filing is an attempt to force his client's hand.

Miller said negotiations for a biopic on the controversial rapper were under way at several studios and that Morgan Creek attempted to sabotage those talks with threats of litigation. "They have scared away Paramount, Fox and others, and we are going to sue them and recover millions (in damages)," Miller said.   Continued...

 
<p>Rap music star Tupac Shakur is pictured in this file photo. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>