Roberto Clemente’s Family Accused of Double-Dipping Film and TV Rights in Lawsuit Against MLB Star’s Sons and Legendary Pictures

Inside the Park LLC claims they were sold rights to adapt the Hall of Famer’s life into a feature film under false pretenses

The sons of baseball legend Roberto Clemente and Legendary Pictures have been sued by indie production company Inside the Park LLC, which accuses Luis Clemente and Roberto Clemente, Jr. of selling them the rights to make a film about the Puerto Rican outfielder under false pretenses.

In the lawsuit obtained by TheWrap, Inside the Park claims that the Clementes reached a deal with the company on the rights to make a film based on their father’s life and the 2013 biography the two sons wrote with their mother, Vera, titled “Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero.”

After the deal was announced in the spring of 2023, Inside the Park claims it reached out to several talent agencies, including WME and CAA, to begin finding talent for a Clemente biopic. The company also claims it reached out to an unnamed Latino director who had previously worked on an Oscar-nominated biopic.

But in May, the company discovered that a previous rights deal negotiated between the Clementes and Legendary Pictures in 2015 had not expired and had been optioned to independent production studio Teton Ridge Entertainment.

Inside the Park claims that they “conspired to hide such information” about the previous deal with Legendary by failing to disclose an email sent by Teton Ridge asserting their rights to the Clemente project just hours after the rights deal with Inside the Park had been reported in entertainment trade publications. The company accuses the Clementes of cutting off contact with them and abandoning their rights deal while receiving an email from the CEO of the family’s agency, CMG, telling Inside the Park to “bring on any legal action you want with us.”

“The Clemente Family’s fradulent conduct was utilized to get traction on their earlier project, which had gone completely dormant and to generate renewed interest and publicity in the Roberto Clemente story and brand,” reads the company’s lawsuit, citing a 2022 deal made between the family and Capital One for sponsorship rights to Roberto Clemente Day, which is celebrated by the MLB every year on Sept. 15.

The Clementes, CMG, Legendary and Teton Ridge are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, with ITP suing the Clementes and CMG for fraud, breach of contract and breach of implied covenant and good faith. It seeks to recoup more than $5 million that was spent trying to develop the biopic project, along with punitive damages and a court ruling declaring ITP to have exclusive ownership to the film rights.

From 1955 to ’72, Clemente played 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, becoming one of the first Latin American superstars of Major League Baseball as he became a 13-time All-Star, 12-time Gold Glover and a two-time World Series champion. Also known off-the-field for his prolific charity work, Clemente tragically died at the age of 38 in a plane crash while flying to Nicaragua to aid victims of a major earthquake.

Following his death, Clemente posthumously became the first Latin American-born player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Additionally, the MLB Commissioner’s Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team,” was renamed in his honor.

In a statement, CMG denied all allegations in the lawsuit: “Our only regret is engaging with ‘producers,’ likely boasting more lawsuits than successful films. We are eager to litigate these ludicrous claims and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to preserving the legacy of one of the greatest Hispanic icons of all time.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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