Aretha Franklin Turns Up Heat on ‘Amazing Grace’ Producer

Soul diva amends complaint against Alan Elliott after secret screening of documentary in Toronto for potential buyers

Last Updated: September 13, 2015 @ 8:15 PM

Singer Aretha Franklin fired back in her battle with movie producer Alan Elliot on Sunday.

The soul diva filed an amended complaint in Colorado federal court to broaden her legal efforts to block Elliot from screening his documentary “Amazing Grace,” after reports that he and WME had secretly shown the film to studio executives off-site at the Toronto Film Festival.

Franklin is seeking a declaratory judgment from U.S. District Court in Denver that would require Elliott to obtain her permission before any public screening or commercial use of the movie, and specifically cited efforts to find a distributor for the film.

The screenings and the controversy around the doc may have increased interest in it, and there are reportedly several offers for the project. No deal for “Amazing Grace” can be sealed until the legal issues are resolved, however.

“Amazing Grace” was scheduled to screen at both the Telluride and Toronto film fests until a lawsuit filed by Franklin to block its premiere.

A federal judge in Denver ruled last week that the concert footage of the singer shot by Sydney Pollack in 1972 couldn’t be shown without Franklin’s consent, forcing the filmmakers to cancel screenings at Telluride, Toronto and the upcoming Chicago Film Festival.

In Sunday’s amended filing, Franklin’s attorney claimed that the “screening was done without Ms. Franklin’s permission or knowledge, and was contrary to Mr. Elliott’s counsel’s specific recommendations,” and cited a promise by Elliott’s attorney not to show the film publicly.

The complaint seeks jurisdiction in Colorado by noting that Elliott and WME agents traveled to Colorado for the planned screening at Telluride “attempting to generate interest in a distribution deal for the film.”


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