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Jury Tells Disney to Pay $300,000 in 'Honey' Case : Movies: A game show producer who claimed his treatment was used as the basis for 'Honey, I Blew Up the Kid' wins suit. Disney says the film was a sequel to 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.'

November 13, 1993|ROBERT W. WELKOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A jury ordered the Walt Disney Co. Friday to pay $300,000 to a television game show producer who claimed his screen treatment about a toddler who turns into a towering, destructive giant was used as the basis for the Disney film "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid."

Paul Alter, producer of "The Price Is Right," sued Disney two years ago, claiming there were as many as 17 areas of similarity between his 12-page treatment and the film.

"It was our claim that Alter's treatment was used for that concept," said attorney Tom Girardi, who represented Alter. "This verdict says to Hollywood that it will have to start treating artists, writers and productions in a fair fashion."

A Disney spokesman, John Dreyer, said after the verdict: "We're disappointed and troubled by the decision."

The 12-member jury returned its verdict after six days of deliberation in the courtroom of Los Angeles Superior Judge David Yaffee. The deliberations followed a six-day trial.

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Alter, 62, of Beverly Hills, had claimed that he first got the idea for his treatment while baby-sitting his granddaughter and watching her knock over toy buildings and pick up toy cars. He submitted his treatment to then-Disney Vice President Tom Wilhite in 1980, but said it was rejected.

But Disney countered that not only was Wilhite long gone by the time the movie was released, but that writers came up with the sequel after "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" became a runaway hit at the box office.

Girardi said the similarities between Alter's treatment and the film ranged from having the villain at the laboratory try to shoot the toddler down with missiles to having the father work feverishly to try to shrink the toddler back to normal size.

But it was something not in the film, Girardi contended, that may have swayed the jurors.

"In Paul's treatment, the baby grows to its giant size because of a genetic type of accident," Girardi said. "In the movie, the baby grows to giant size because of a machine in a laboratory. Unfortunately for Disney, one of the first drafts (of the screenplay) shows the baby growing to gigantic size because of a genetic type accident.

"Paul's footprints were all over the film."

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