Suit accuses Warner Bros. and others of rewriting his passion project and covering it up
Clint Eastwood’s “Trouble With the Curve” is the target of a lawsuit by a former college baseball player who says the defendants — including Warner Bros., UTA and Eastwood's production company — conspired to rip off his screenplays and concept reels by propping up a phony screenwriter and covering their tracks.
The 119-page action filed Tuesday in a Los Angeles federal district court says “Curve” was lifted from Ryan A. Brooks’ “Omaha.” A press release prepared by the plaintiffs said Brooks envisioned his passion project as “the first baseball movie focusing on a father-daughter relationship.”
The lawsuit says Brooks hired screenwriter Don Handfield to pen the story in 2005, but the two had a falling out in 2008. Handfield then shared his work with his UTA agent, the filing states, “setting in motion a conspiracy to rework ‘Omaha’ into ‘Trouble With the Curve’ and conceal Handfield’s writing role because of his contracts with Brooks.”
Warner Bros. had no comment on the lawsuit. UTA also declined to comment.
Both “Curve” and “Omaha” center on an aging baseball maven (a pro scout in “Curve,” a college coach in “Omaha”) in his last year with the organization who is in ill health, grieving the death of his wife and his estranged relationship with his daughter (played in “Curve” by Amy Adams), the plaintiffs claim.
Clint Eastwood’s company, Malpaso Productions Ltd., produced the film released in Sept. 2012 by Warner Bros. The studio and Malpaso are named as defendants; Eastwood himself is not.
The “Curve” screenplay credit belongs to Randy Brown, who the plaintiffs claim is an “imposter” who “lacked the credentials and background to write such a script.” They point out that Brown — also a UTA client, who shared an agent with Handfield — had only two minor writing credits, very limited personal experiences with baseball to draw upon and had been making his living in a wedding band.
An attorney listed for Brown said he hadn't been a client there for some time.
“This is not your garden variety ‘they stole my script’ copyright case, but one alleging a wide-ranging conspiracy and cover up involving duplicitous agents and ambitious filmmakers so eager for marquee credits that they lied, cheated and stole,” said entertainment attorney Gerard P. Fox, who is representing Brooks.
Brooks (pictured left) was an All Big 12 conference third baseman at the University of Texas whose baseball career was cut short by an injury. He moved to Los Angeles and founded
production company Gold Gloves in 2004, which has a producing credit on “Inocente,” which won a documentary short Oscar this year.