University Of The South Suing For Royalties From Tennessee Williams Play From Broadway Production Starring Sally Field

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The University of the South at Sewanee is suing a New York production firm, saying it is owed $305,383, plus interest, in royalties from a Tennessee Williams play.

Upon his death, the famed playwright bequeathed his estate to the university as a memorial to his grandfather, who was a student at the university. This estate included the copyrights to his plays, screenplays, poems, letters, and stories. 

The complaint, filed in Federal Court in Chattanooga, is against Rudinplay Inc. and Laurette Broadway LLC. Rudinplay is headed by film and theater producer Scott Rudin.

The suit says, "This is an action for breach of contract stemming from Rudinplay’s willful and ongoing refusal to fulfill its clear contractual obligations to the University, including to pay the University royalties in an amount not less than $305,383.78, in connection with Rudinplay’s live stage production of Tennessee Williams’ play The Glass Menagerie on Broadway in New York City.

"In addition to being an institution of higher learning, the university is the proprietor of worldwide intellectual property rights in the works of the late American playwright Tennessee Williams.

"The university did not consent to the assignment to Laurette, nor was it aware of such assignment until Dec. 14, 2017."

It also says, "In 1895, Rev. Walter E. Dakin, grandfather of famed playwright Tennessee Williams, studied at the University’s School of Theology. Williams is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who is considered one of the most prolific and highly regarded American playwrights. His credits include The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

"In Williams’ honor, the university erected the Tennessee Williams Center, which houses the university’s theater department. Theatrical productions mounted in the Center include Williams’ own plays, as well as the works of aspiring playwrights.

"The Glass Menagerie, one of Williams’ most famous plays, is a five-character play featuring characters based on Williams’ own family. On or about July 25, 2016, the University and Rudinplay entered into a Memorandum of Agreement concerning Rudinplay’s development of the work for live stage performances, including the Production. The Contract granted Rudinplay the sole and exclusive right to produce the work on the professional live stage in the United States and Canada for a 30-month period, subject to certain conditions.

"Rudinplay was obligated to pay the university royalties amounting to six percent for all paid performances up to and including the official opening night, and thereafter 7.5 percent on all performances starting with the first performance following the official opening night (and rising to 10 percent after satisfaction of certain other financial conditions).

"Pursuant to paragraph 14 of the contract, Rudinplay was obligated to provide the university with box office settlement statements for each week of the production no later than the Friday following the end of each week in which performances have been given.

"Rudinplay was obligated to place an advertisement in the production’s playbill describing the university’s relationship to the works of Tennessee Williams.

"The production ran on Broadway in New York City from Feb. 7, 2017 through May 21, 2017, and starred Sally Field and Joe Mantello. The production earned at least $5,436,397 in gross box office receipts."

The suit, filed by attorneys John Jackson of Chattanooga and Scott Sholder of New York, says  Rudinplay has not provided any statements or accounting records as required by the contract and failed to include the ad in the production’s playbill.

It says a notice of default was served on Nov. 6, then a notice of termination was served on Dec. 21.

The suit asks that it be paid the royalties and that Rudinplay be blocked from any further production of the play.

 

 


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