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April 05, 1985|RANDY LEWIS | Times Staff Writer

Former auto maker John DeLorean will be paid more than $1.3 million by the newly formed DeLorean Plus Film Group of Newport Beach for the exclusive rights to his film biography, The Times has learned. If consummated, the agreement would end DeLorean's long quest for a film deal to help pay his massive legal bills.

The DeLorean Plus Film Group is a limited partnership being formed by a group of companies, several of which are Orange County firms with no experience in the film business and some of which have allowed their corporation status to lapse in various states.

The partnership hopes to raise $30 million in a public offering to finance the $15-million DeLorean film and other movie projects, according to David Tedder, a Newport Beach attorney hired to package the partnership. A prospectus will not be prepared for about four weeks, and an underwriter has not been selected, Tedder said.

The deal, signed last Friday in Newport Beach, provides DeLorean with a $200,000 cash advance as part of the total $1.3-million cash package. He also will receive a percentage of the film's net profits.

The script will be based on DeLorean's autobiography, scheduled to be published in the fall by Zondervan Publishing, a Grand Rapids, Mich., Bible publishing house. DeLorean's well-publicized battle with the U.S. government over charges that he tried to negotiate a massive cocaine deal to save his ailing DeLorean Motor Co. ended with his acquittal last August.

Susan G. Schaefer, DeLorean's life-story rights attorney, said DeLorean chose to deal with little-known companies over more established film entities because "it would give John more money up front, more creative control and a greater share of the film's profits than a number of other deals he has been offered."

Schaefer added that San Francisco film maker Woody Clark, who last fall unsuccessfully attempted to win DeLorean's cooperation in a film biography, recently withdrew his offer.

The 2 1/2-page agreement that provides the basis of the DeLorean Plus Film Group was signed by DeLorean, acting as chairman of Ephesians 6:12 Inc., and Walt Bratten, representative of Sun Coast Investments Inc., a Newport Beach-based firm that provided the front money to secure the deal.

The film will be co-produced by Lightstream Communications, a Canadian firm headed by DeLorean's agent, Wayne Coombs, and Newport Productions Inc., according to Bratten. Coombs could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

Newport Productions is a Tustin-based subsidiary of Landorama Corp., a Utah corporation with dealings in real estate, wind generators, electronics and--with the DeLorean project--film production, according to R. Erik Arden III, president of both companies.

Utah's Corporations Division suspended Landorama's corporation status on Dec. 31, 1984, for failure to file a 1984 annual report. Tedder, who also is the attorney for Landorama, said the suspension was the result of an oversight and that an officer of the company is filing the required fees and documents in order to have the suspension lifted. The Securities and Exchange Commission had no record on Landorama.

Newport Productions is the new name for a Nevada corporation, Amityville Inc., that several years ago had an option on the Amityville horror films, Arden said. The Nevada Corporations Division Status Unit lists Amityville Inc.'s status as delinquent on March 1, 1985, for failure to file a listing of officers and failure to pay annual fees. The California Department of Corporations lists an Arcadia-based Landorama Corp., which Arden said is the California division of the Utah company, as a corporation in good standing.

Further, a California corporation with the name of Sun Coast Investments Inc., registered to a post office box address in Camdenton, Mo., was suspended by the Franchise Tax Board on May 3, 1982, for failure to pay monies or fees due the tax board (the tax board does not specify which). But Bratten said that the Sun Coast Investments he represents is a Cayman Islands corporation not affiliated with the California firm of the same name.

Responded DeLorean attorney Schaefer, "I don't know these people personally and have not conducted my own investigation. John (DeLorean) relied on Wayne (Coombs) because Wayne said that he had thoroughly checked them out. I think before a more formal agreement is entered into we will want to make a more thorough check."

Under terms of the deal, when the partnership has raised $1.75 million, DeLorean will reimburse the advance to Sun Coast, at which time he will receive a payment of more than $1 million from the partnership. The remainder of his cash payment, not including his percentage of the movie's net profits, will be made when the partnership has raised $15 million.

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