A stockholder of Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. filed suit late Friday alleging questionable accounting practices in the company.
The suit was filed in U. S. District Court in New York City by Dorothy M. Wolin, who said she owns 300 shares of Columbia stock. It requests the court to declare the suit a class action on behalf of 18,000 Columbia shareholders.
In her complaint Wolin calls for the company "to repay the plaintiff and each member of the class for the losses sustained by the actions as alleged."
The suit alleges that Columbia's accounting methods for films have concealed profits earned by independent producers, directors and performers.
"Many of the producers and artists who have been defrauded will seek to recover . . . These amounts are substantial and will have material impact on Columbia's earnings," the suit alleges.
The suit follows allegations in the press of accounting irregularities by movie companies in the wake of a scandal at Columbia Pictures involving the firm's now-departed president, David Begelman.
Begelman originally was retained by the company even after he confessed to embezzling $60,000 in corporate funds. Last month he was forced to resign after investigations of his financial dealings spread to practices by the movie industry.
Bagelman is named a defendant in the Wolin suit along with Columbia President Alan Hirschfield; Chairman Leo Jaffe; two major stockholders, Herbert A. Allen and Matthew Rosenhaus, who as board members pressed for Begelman's retention; Columbia's outside accountants, Price Waterhouse & Co.; and others.
Among the practices alleged in the suit:
Charging to production numerous expenses that were not incurred in those productions. The suit cities the Columbia film "The Deep" as an example.
Selling to television a package that includes a hit movie along with several flops. The suit alleges that once independent producers and artists of popular movies learn that their returns from TM sales are being diduted, they will sue Columbia to recover "and this will have a major impact on Columbia's earnings."
Receiving guarantees from exhibitors of motion pictures. When those movies do not earn what was anticipated, Columbia still reports the full amount in its financial statements "while knowing Columbia will provide a credit to exhibitors on this motion picture in the future."
No Columbia spokesman could be reached for comment yesterday.
Special correspondent John Kennedy contributed to this article.