December 23, 2010 / 10:55 PM / 7 years ago

Film producer sues over "Black Swan"

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York film production company has sued its former president, claiming “gross lapses in judgment” cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue and a producer credit on the movie “Black Swan.”

<p>The cast of "Black Swan" (from L), screenwriter Mark Heyman, actors Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey, Vincent Cassel, Natalie Portman and director Darren Aronofsky pose for photos during their news conference at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>

The defendant, Aaron Kaufman, called the claims baseless and said he would countersue for libel.

“Black Swan,” starring Natalie Portman, was released for the holiday season and has gained early Oscar buzz after being nominated for four Golden Globe awards, including best drama.

Overnight LLC, led by producer Rick Schwartz, accuses Kaufman of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misappropriation of corporate opportunity in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court.

“Among other things, Kaufman misrepresented his knowledge, skill and experience (and) pretended to be knowledgeable about the financing of motion pictures when he was not,” the suit said.

The suit further claims that Kaufman misrepresented himself when he sought to make a deal with director Robert Rodriguez for his movie “Machete,” which came out in September, a move that interfered with Overnight’s obligations on other film projects, the suit said.

Schwartz, who received a credit as executive producer on “Black Swan,” has helped produce movies such as “Machete,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator” and “The Others,” the suit said.

Kaufman, reached at his home in New Jersey, called the claims in the lawsuit baseless, said he would sue Schwartz for libel and attributed the dispute to Schwartz’s “erratic” performance.

Kaufman said Schwartz ran a dysfunctional company and had failed to help produce any films on his own until Kaufman joined the company and helped secure a part in the production of “Machete” and “Black Swan.”

“Literally every point is either baseless or shaded to the point of being a lie,” Kaufman said. “Literally there is not almost a single factual thing in the lawsuit, and he goes after me personally, which is libelous.”

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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