- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2007

‘Sahara’ suit

Best-selling author Clive Cussler said he sued the makers of the film version of his book “Sahara” because they hadn’t listened to him and made his agent angry.

“They were going ahead and producing it without my approval,” Mr. Cussler said in a 2005 deposition played Friday for jurors as trial continued in his Superior Court lawsuit in Los Angeles.

Mr. Cussler said his New York literary agent and longtime friend, Peter Lampack, called a lawyer because the producer was offering no incentives for Mr. Cussler to approve the script.

Mr. Cussler is suing Crusader Entertainment, a company owned by billionaire Philip Anschutz, contending that the company breached a contract giving Mr. Cussler absolute approval of the script up until filming began.

Crusader, in turn, is suing Mr. Cussler, accusing him of dooming the movie by being uncooperative and meddlesome and by bad-mouthing it to the press.

Each suit seeks millions of dollars.

The 2005 film starredMatthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. It cost an estimated $160 million to make but grossed only $68 million in the U.S. Attorneys for Mr. Anschutz’s company claim about $80 million in losses on “Sahara.”

The movie was seen as the first in a possible series starring Mr. Cussler’s alter ego, Dirk Pitt. Crusader had the rights to two books and a potential option on a third. The writer would get $10 million for each book that became a movie and receive consultation and approval rights.

At issue on Friday was a contract deadline that said “principal photography” on the movie had to start by Nov. 6, 2003, or Crusader would lose film rights to about 17 other Cussler books.

Crusader attorney Marvin Putnam asked Mr. Lampack questions about why Mr. Cussler refused repeated requests by Crusader President and CEO Marvin Putnam to extend the filming deadline.

A $3-million scene, featuring Mr. Cussler’s daughter, Dayna, eventually was shot by the deadline but Mr. Lampack testified that he didn’t believe that constituted “principal photography” because it didn’t include a lead actor and the scene wasn’t part of the main story. The scene didn’t make it into the movie.

Enshrined forever

Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, his wife of more than 50 years, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Friday for their respective careers.

Their children — actors Ben Stiller and Amy Stiller — and actor Jason Alexander joined the couple as they were presented with the 2,328th star.

Mr. Stiller portrayed the father of Mr. Alexander’s character, George Costanza, on the long-running NBC comedy “Seinfeld.” He plays a cantankerous father-in-law on CBS’ “The King of Queens.”

Miss Meara has been nominated four times for an Emmy, including for outstanding lead actress in a drama for her title role in the short-lived 1975 CBS legal drama “Kate McShane.”

They were the fourth married couple to receive a joint star on the Walk of Fame, after Sonny and Cher, television’s Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, and radio’s Fibber McGee and Molly (Jim and Marian Jordan), according to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the Walk of Fame.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee from Web and wire reports.

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