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Woody Allen loses fight over editing movies

Fight over right to edit versions of six of his movies for planes and TV
/ Source: The Associated Press

Woody Allen, in another legal fight with two former friends and producers he accused of cheating him out of $12 million, has lost a skirmish over what versions of six of his movies will be shown on television and in airplanes.

State Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried ruled that terms of a settlement of a lawsuit Allen filed against Jean Doumanian, his former producer and friend of 30 years, allow her to develop the television and in-flight versions of “Bullets over Broadway,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Everyone Says I Love You,” “Deconstructing Harry,” “Celebrity” and “Sweet and Lowdown.”

The fight over the modified versions stems from the 2001 lawsuit Allen filed against Doumanian, Jacqui Safra, her personal and professional partner, and their production company, Sweetland Films.

Allen, 70, alleged that Doumanian and Safra refused to give him an earnings report for eight films, including the six currently in dispute, and had cheated him out of as much as $12 million.

After a nine-day trial in 2002, the parties settled the lawsuit without revealing the terms of their agreement.

But the judge’s decision, made public Thursday, said one settlement provision says that if the parties disagree over how to edit Allen’s films to meet television standards the matter would be submitted to Manhattan’s state Supreme Court for resolution.

They sent the matter to the court in 2004 after Allen objected to Doumanian’s cuts and her decision to replace words rather than bleeping them out. But the judge agreed with Doumanian, who had argued that television networks generally did not accept Allen’s approach.

Allen’s lawyer, Michael Zweig, said the filmmaker had not decided whether to appeal.

“We now respectfully disagree with Judge Fried’s decision and believe that, in any case, any future effort by the producers to modify the films will not, in the long run, prove attractive or commercially viable,” Zweig said.

Doumanian’s lawyer, Stephen Hayes, referred calls to publicist Dan Klores, who was not immediately available for comment.