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When Creative Control to Authors in Hollywood Goes Sour

When movie mogul Philip Anschutz struck an unprecedented deal with Clive Cussler to adapt his bestselling Dirk Pitt novels for the screen – giving the author $10 million per movie, casting and director approval and the chance to write (and rewrite) the scripts – many in Hollywood raised eyebrows. And if the saga as laid out by the LA Times’ Glenn Bunting is to be believed, those eyebrow raises were entirely justified. Cussler sued first, claiming that the 2005 movie SAHARA was far from his original script and that the process violated the agreed-upon creative control. Anschutz has countersued. The trial starts next week.

By ceding so much authority to a novelist, Bunting writes, Anschutz broke a fundamental rule in the film business: Keep the author out of the screenwriting process. Now Anschutz finds himself cast in a movie mogul’s nightmare. Amazing stuff…

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