In Lawrence Christon's Oct. 28 profile of Sylvester Stallone, Sly credited his first big break to a "$200 option" of "Paradise Alley" (a.k.a. "Hell's Kitchen") by producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Chartoff and Winkler never had anything to do with "Paradise Alley."
"Paradise Alley" was optioned for $2,000, purchased for $25,000 and produced for Universal Pictures release by myself and my partner, John Roach, through our company, Force Ten Productions.
Indeed it was Sly's first big break. "Paradise Alley," in its original scripted form, was a boxing film, not a wrestling film. Force Ten brought it and Sly to the attention of Chartoff and Winkler, strongly urging that Sly be cast in the lead role of a prizefighter. Instead, after elaborate negotiations, Chartoff and Winkler passed on "Paradise Alley" and developed "Rocky" with Stallone, resulting in a $30-million lawsuit by Force Ten against Chartoff and Winkler and United Artists charging that "Rocky" was all too similar to "Paradise Alley."
In an effort to make movies, not lawsuits, Force Ten agreed to settle the "Rocky" lawsuit, recast Sly from a heavyweight prizefighter to a club wrestler's manager and further accommodate him as a first-time director.