Harry Shearer, who is best known for being the voice behind many of the characters on The Simpsons, has just filed a $125 million fraud and contract breach lawsuit against Vivendi and StudioCanal.
The lawsuit is over the 1984 rockumentary classic, This is Spinal Tap, where Shearer played bassist Derek Smalls. The film was directed by Rob Reiner and released by Embassy Pictures. Shearer, along with Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, co-created the semi-fake band Spinal Tap in the 1970’s.
The complaint was filed on Monday in California federal court. Apparently, Shearer and his co-creators haven’t seen much money from the successful film and soundtrack.
According to the complaint, Shearer’s company Century of Progress Productions has alleged that the four lead creatives have received only $81 in merchandising income and $98 in musical sales income in the past thirty years from the franchise.
This is despite the original 1982 production agreement calling for Shearer, McKean, Guest and Reiner to get 40 percent of net receipts, according to the complaint.
The complaint states:
“The accounting between the Vivendi subsidiaries is not at arm’s-length, is anti-competitive, and deprives the TIST creators of a fair reward for their services.”
“Particularly given that Vivendi has offset fraudulent accounting for revenues from music copyrights against equally dubious revenue streams for film and merchandising rights also controlled by Vivendi subsidiaries, Shearer is concurrently filing notices of copyright termination for publishing and recording rights in Spinal Tap songs he co-wrote and co-recorded, as well as in the film itself.”
If Shearer is successful, Vivendi will lose their rights to This is Spinal Tap in the year 2019.