Warren Beatty's lawsuit against Tribune Co. over Dick Tracy rights can proceed

By Reuters
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WILMINGTON, DEL. -- Academy Award-winning actor-director Warren Beatty can proceed with a California lawsuit against a unit of the bankrupt Tribune Co. over rights to comic-strip detective Dick Tracy, a federal judge ruled Monday.

According to court papers, Beatty bought the motion picture and television rights for Dick Tracy in 1985. He went on to star in and direct the 1990 film by the same name, which won three Oscars and starred Dustin Hoffman, Madonna and Al Pacino.

Tribune has said an agreement that granted rights to Beatty had lapsed because the filmmaker had not started work on a new project based on the character. Beatty contends that he was producing a television special last year about Dick Tracy when a Tribune subsidiary notified him the Dick Tracy rights had lapsed.

Beatty filed a lawsuit a year ago in California state court stemming from that dispute, although it was automatically put on hold by the bankruptcy of Tribune, which owns newspapers and television stations.

Tribune also filed an adversary complaint asking Delaware's bankruptcy court for a summary judgment declaring Dick Tracy the company's property.

The bankruptcy judge, Kevin Carey, seemed to split the difference between the two sides. He ruled that the California case could proceed but at the same time did not dismiss action by Tribune in bankruptcy court.

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