Agreement allows videotaping of Beatty deposition
WILMINGTON, Del. — An agreement has been reached allowing the videotaping of Warren Beatty’s deposition in his dispute with the Tribune Co. over the rights to cartoon detective Dick Tracy, a federal judge presiding over the case said Tuesday.
Although Beatty has made a living in front of the camera, his attorneys wanted U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey to prohibit the videotaping, arguing it was unnecessary and could result in a violation of his privacy. Beatty’s lawyers have claimed such a recording would be in high demand online because of his celebrity status.
As part of the agreement, videotaping was allowed, but only four copies may be made — two for each side. The agreement, affirmed in a protective order Carey signed Tuesday, calls for each copy to contain a unique identifier, so that any leaks can be traced.
Although the agreement wasn’t disclosed until Tuesday, Beatty gave his deposition last week, and a redacted transcript was presented in court.
Beatty sued Tribune shortly before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December. The dispute stemmed from a 1985 agreement that gave the actor movie and TV rights to comic strip detective Dick Tracy and led to a movie of the same name starring Beatty.
The contract states that Beatty must start “principal photography” on a feature film, TV special or TV series by a certain deadline or else the rights revert back to Tribune.
In seeking to reclaim the rights, Tribune said Beatty did not fulfill his part. Beatty said he did commence principal photography on a TV special last November. The media company disputed that the TV special was such, describing it as more of a DVD takeout.
On Tuesday, Beatty’s lawyer asked the judge to keep a DVD copy of the program under seal since it hasn’t yet aired. The judge agreed.
Tribune has said that the Dick Tracy rights are worth tens of millions of dollars in potential income to the company.
Tribune, which owns the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Cubs, and other media properties, is struggling under $13 billion of debt stemming from a leveraged buyout to take the company private. A severe slump in advertising for newspapers and TV stations further hamstrung the company’s turnaround efforts.
When Tribune filed for bankruptcy, Beatty’s lawsuit in California was put on automatic hold. On Tuesday, his lawyer made his final arguments to persuade the judge to lift the stay, saying that it would be expensive and inconvenient for the actor to travel to Delaware for a trial. He also said that it was a California issue involving California executives, and thus a venue in that state would be appropriate.
But Tribune countered that it would be inconvenienced if the lawsuit in California was allowed to proceed. Also, the media company argued that it’s better for the bankruptcy court to handle all the Dick Tracy rights.
Only the movie and TV rights are under dispute. Tribune owns all the other rights to the comic strip.
Separately, Tribune asked the court Friday to extend to Nov. 30, from Aug. 4, the deadline for exclusive rights to file its reorganization plan. It’s the company’s second extension. Without such protection, other parties technically can file a reorganization plan for the company.