Advertisement
 
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Crime Story Doesn't Pay as He Expected

THE COURT FILES / ANN W. O'NEILL

July 18, 1999|ANN W. O'NEILL

There is no Mafia . . . Ex-bosses . . . Adventures in house-hunting . . . Settling Stallones.

While doing time for extortion at Terminal Island in 1972, Robert Dellinger taught a writing class, turning his fellow cons on to prose. Among his students was mob scion Salvatore "Bill" Bonanno, who was in the joint for credit card fraud.

The writer's friendship with the Bonanno family gave Dellinger a treasure trove of story ideas. He says he took those ideas to his agent, Mickey Freiberg.

For a while, things worked out pretty well for Dellinger, an ex-con turned TV writer with credits for shows including "Starsky and Hutch," "Kojak" and "21 Jump Street."

In 1993, he earned an executive producer credit for the CBS miniseries, "Love, Honor and Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage." It was the story of the union between Bill Bonanno and his wife, Rosalie, told from her point of view. Ben Gazzara played patriarch Joe Bonanno, a.k.a. "Joe Bananas," who now is 94. Eric Roberts played Bill, and Nancy McKeon played Rosalie.

Now that HBO's mob hit, "The Sopranos," has reignited interest in wise guys and their families--and we mean this in every sense of the word--Dellinger was looking forward to being the executive producer of the sequel to his 1993 miniseries.

It isn't happening, and for that Dellinger is suing his agent in Los Angeles Superior Court. Later this month, the Showtime cable network plans to broadcast "Bonanno: A Godfather's Story." The suit, filed by attorney Joseph F. Hart, accuses Freiberg and his company, the Artists Agency, of helping Bill Bonanno strike his own deal with the filmmakers.

Dellinger seeks $350,000 in damages.

Freiberg had no comment.

SOME WEDDING GIFT: A former executive who handled financial matters for producer Jon Peters says her job entailed a lot more than bean-counting. For two years, Colleen Bennett claims in a Los Angeles Superior Court suit, Peters subjected her "to a pervasive campaign of unwanted and offensive harassment."

A sample of her allegations: Peters took meetings in his underwear, tried to kiss her, grabbed her, and exposed himself to her. He allegedly called her "babe," "baby," "sweetie" and "honey," and repeatedly asked if she loved him. And when she was about to be married, she says, he tried to sabotage the relationship, piled work on her the day before the wedding and fired her three days after she returned from her honeymoon.

Named as defendants in Bennett's suit are Peters and his various corporate selves--JP Organization Inc., Peters Entertainment Co., Peters 1990 Trust and Peters Family Foundation Inc. The suit, filed by attorney Steven J. Rottman, alleges battery, sexual harassment, wrongful termination and discrimination against her gender and marital status. Peters couldn't be reached for comment.

COLD PROPERTY: Actor-director Forest Whitaker is being sued by a real estate company, alleging that he backed out of a deal to buy a house in Hancock Park.

H. Fujita Co. charges in its lawsuit that the actor, best known for his role in "The Crying Game," as well as for directing "Waiting to Exhale" and "Hope Floats," opened escrow last year on a $1.8-million Plymouth Boulevard house, but failed to complete the terms of his purchase contract.

The suit seeks repayment of the money the failed deal cost the real estate firm.

Annette Wolf, a publicist for Whitaker, said, "There is a dispute in regards to the prior purchase agreement." She declined to discuss details, because Whitaker and his lawyer haven't been served with the complaint.

YO, BUH-BYE: Rocky went the distance. It took about 50 hours of lawyerly arm wrestling, but at last the brothers Stallone have settled a three-way legal battle with another set of sibs, producers Diane and Alan Mehrez. The dispute was over an unreleased film about semiretired, golf-loving hit men.

Terms of the settlement were kept confidential.

Attorney Marty Singer, who represented Sylvester Stallone, compared the negotiations to a mini-trial, and praised Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James R. Dunn for putting in the long hours necessary to make sure the case was resolved. At least twice, the marathon talks lasted past 11 p.m.

At the center of the case was Sly's six-minute role in "The Good Life," a film starring his brother Frank.

Sylvester accused the Mehrezes and their companies, DEM Productions and FM Entertainment, of over-hyping his role, which he performed as a favor to Frank. He sued for $20 million, alleging breach of contract and violation of his right to control his own publicity. Frank Stallone also sued, saying he was cheated out of his pay, and wasn't given a dressing room or creative control, as he claims he was promised.

The Mehrezes sued back, charging that the brothers Stallone acted like the gangsters they were hired to portray. They say the pair threatened to run them out of Hollywood.

So, it's all over now. Fugghedaboudit.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|