Feb 8, 2011

Emma Thompson battles playwright over play

Academy Award-winning actress/screenwriter Emma Thompson is locked in a row over who authored her latest film project "Effie." Whether the film gets made could depend on the outcome.
The film's producers have gone to a New York federal court to get a declaration that Thompson's script doesn't infringe the copyright of playwright Gregory Murphy's play "The Countess." Both works are reportedly about a love triangle involving celebrated art critic John Ruskin, his teenage wife Effie Gray, and pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, a sexual scandal that rocked 19th Century England.
Murphy came out with his play first. "The Countess" got good reviews in 1999, played 634 performances in New York, and was revived on a London stage in 2005.
But according to a lawsuit that was filed by the film's producers, Thompson never had access to Murphy's play, which was purportedly turned into a screenplay, and denies copying it.
Murphy's lawyers are said to be pursuing the new film production anyway. According to the complaint, "In order to close financing to produce a motion picture based on Effie, (the plaintiff) must be able to demonstrate that there is no validity to Mr. Murphy's claim of infringement."


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