"Crash" Producers Wage War In Court

by | March 2, 2006 | Comments

Days before their pic goes head-to-head with gay cowboys, pimps, and other cinematic heroes of the year, the producers of "Crash" have locked horns in court in not one, but two lawsuits — with each other.

Variety’s got the full write-up on the conflict between producer Bob Yari and his former producing buds, Cathy Schulman and Tom Nunan. It’s quite the complicated story, with plenty of twist and turns involving people, organizations, and films connected by coincidence — much like "Crash" itself. For the full story, click here. For a quick rundown, keep reading.

This year, the Academy began deferring to the Producers Guild of America (PGA) in determining who would be eligible to claim producing credits on a film for awards ceremonies. This move was intended to limit the number of producers given awards for winning films, since many movie credits have burgeoned in recent years from just a few producers to an entire list of their own. "Crash" credits four partial producers, four exec producers, and six full producers; as deemed by the PGA, only two — Cathy Schulman and Paul Haggis — are eligible to collect Oscars if the film wins Best Picture on Sunday.

Lawsuit #1

Back in January, Bob Yari (one of the six full producers) filed a lawsuit against Schulman for taking too much credit for her involvement in "Crash," to which he had originally assigned her. He also threw in the accusation that Schulman undermined the promotion of the Ed NortonPaul Giamatti pic "The Illusionist" at this year’s Sundance (the period pic received a lukewarm reception) and also, strangely, that she hoarded festival passes.

Lawsuit #2

Still miffed by his Oscar exclusion, Yari launched an assault last week on the Producers Guild and the Academy itself. In an open letter published in the trades, Yari accused the PGA of unfairly conducting secret hearings to determine producer credit, and insists he’s suffered professional damage by the diss by being denied creative acknowledgement. Yari tried to lobby the PGA to appeal their decision, but was very publicly denied.

That same day, Yari filed a lawsuit against both organizations seeking to stop the PGA from holding such closed deliberations in the future.

Lawsuit #3

In retaliation for Yari’s initial claims, Schulman and Nunan filed a suit of their own this week, charging Yari with reacting like a child to his Oscar snub — as well as being a failed director-turned-moneyman. They claim they are still owed producer fees for work on "Employee of the Month," "Thumbsucker," and "The Illusionist" to the tune of $2 million.

Variety’s got headshots of Yari, Schulman and Nunan up here, so you can watch for them shooting daggers at each other during Sunday’s Oscar telecast.