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Business Partner Sues Composer Zimmer

December 05, 2003|Lorenza Munoz | Times Staff Writer

One of show business' longest-running partnerships, composer Hans Zimmer and producer and engineer Jay Rifkin, has called it quits.

And it looks like a bitter divorce.

Rifkin filed suit Thursday against Zimmer, alleging that the Oscar-winning composer has been trying to squeeze him out of their company, Media Ventures Entertainment.

"Unfortunately, notwithstanding a friendship since childhood and a 15-year partnership, as his star reached its zenith, Zimmer abandoned his loyalty to his longtime friend and partner and ... has secretly conspired with the current resident composers to take business for himself, to the exclusion of" Rifkin, the suit alleges.

Zimmer's lawyer countered that the composer had long been planning to sever the partnership and that Rifkin had been "living off of Hans for almost two decades," said Bonnie Eskenazi of law firm Greenberg Glusker.

"We told Jay Rifkin that Hans was dissatisfied with Jay's management and that he was going to file for dissolution," she said.

Eskenazi added that a counterclaim would be filed in the next few days. "We are very, very anxious to get Jay on the stand so that the world and Jay will understand why Hans needs to get out," she said. "This is not a sad day for Hans -- it's Hans' day of freedom."

The suit comes as Zimmer celebrates his 100th score, for director Ed Zwick's historical epic "The Last Samurai," which stars Tom Cruise and opens today.

In 1995, Zimmer won an Oscar for his score on the animated blockbuster "The Lion King." He has also written the music for such films as "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Prince of Egypt" and "The Road to El Dorado."

Rifkin, represented in the suit by Henry Gradstein of Gradstein, Luskin & VanDalsen, won a Grammy and two American Music Awards for his work as a producer on the soundtrack album to "The Lion King."

The suit alleges that because Rifkin "built Media Ventures into a well-oiled machine consisting of state-of-the-art facilities and numerous resident composers who would ghost portions of scores for Zimmer," the composer was able to take on many projects.

The suit asks for $10 million minimum and punitive damages for all the business that Rifkin has allegedly lost through Zimmer's "wrongful" conduct.

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