Spinal Tap Sue for Untapped Profits

  • Axl Rosenberg

This is Spinal Tap is friggin’ hilarious. Not so hilarious: the three comedic actors who created the band and accompanying film say they’re owed a Big Bottom-full of money for their work.

Explains Harry Shearer (a.k.a. Spinal Tap bassist Derek Smalls; also of The Simpsons and Wayne’s World 2 fame) on his new website, Fairnessrocks.com:

“Almost 40 years ago, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and I created the somewhat legendary band Spinal Tap. We thought there was something real and really funny about the characters, and between that inception and the theatrical release of This Is Spinal Tap in 1984, we poured ourselves into nurturing and perfecting the paean to rock loudness that has entertained so many people, even today. But despite the widespread success of the film and its music, we’ve fallen victim to the same sort of fuzzy and falsified entertainment industry accounting schemes that have bedevilled so many other creators. In this instance, the fraud and negligence were just too egregious to ignore.  Also, this time, it was personal.

“This is a simple issue of artists’ rights. It is stunning that after all this time, two cinema releases, all the various home video format releases, all the records and CDs, and all the band-themed merchandise still widely available worldwide, the only people who haven’t shared Spinal Tap’s success are those who formed the band and created the film in the first place.

“Vivendi and its subsidiaries – which own the rights to thousands and thousands of creative works – have, at least in our case, conducted blatantly unfair business practices. But I wouldn’t be surprised if our example were the tip of the iceberg.  Though I’ve launched this lawsuit on my own, it is in reality a challenge to the company on behalf of all creators of popular films whose talent has not been fairly remunerated. I am just one person seeking redress for blatant injustice, but I hope this lawsuit will, in its own way, help set a new precedent for faithful and transparent accounting practices, and fair artistic compensation, industry-wide.”

If you’re surprised that performers in the movie business often get screwed over the same as performers in the music business, I have to assume you were born yesterday and welcome you to Earth (and compliment you on learning to read at such a young age). Hollywood is notorious for utilizing what you could politely call “creative accounting” to make it seem as though successful movies were somehow not profitable.

What is surprising is that, at least as far as I can tell, McKean (a.k.a. David St. Hubbins), Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel), and Reiner (a.k.a. Marty Di Bergi) are not involved in the lawsuit. Shearer is seeking $125 million dollars; maybe the other three dudes are waiting to see if he wins so that there’s precedent for their own legal actions. It seems worth noting that Shearer that is notorious for playing hardball over money and almost left The Simpsons last year as the result of such a dispute.

My guess is that this will get settled out of court. Nobody wants to spend money on a lawsuit and nobody wants a judge pouring through their accounting.

In the meantime, you can learn more at Fairnessrocks.com.

[via Metal Insider]

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