A few years ago, a New York lawyer wrote a screenplay called “Amoral Dilemma” about an attorney who meets a female prisoner online and has his life turned upside down by their ensuing relationship. Sound kinda similar to the Queen Latifah and Steve Martin blockbuster “Bringing Down the House”?
The writer of “Amoral Dilemma,” Marie Flaherty, thinks so, and on Friday she filed a $15 million lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against executive producer Latifah and other creators of the movie.
Flaherty claims she hired Boston attorney George N. Tobia Jr. in 1999 to help pitch her script, which attracted little interest. Then, several months later, Tobia contacted her to tell her that he and co-writer Jason Filardi had sold a script called “Jailbabe.com,” which was eventually picked up and turned into “Bringing Down the House.”
According to the suit, Filardi claims the similarities between the two stories are superficial since his screenplay was a comedy and hers a drama.
In addition to Latifah, Flaherty is suing Tobia, Filardi, Hyde Park Entertainment, which produced the film, and the movie’s distributor, Walt Disney Co.
Neither Flaherty nor Filardi returned phone calls.
“Bringing Down the House” was the #1 film for three weeks in a row and has brought in over $83.3 million at the box office.
Following her success with “Bringing Down,” Latifah will produce and star in the modern Cinderella story “Just Wright” (see “Queen Latifah Signs On For NBA Cinderella Story” ), and she’s also developing a movie called “The Cookout.” Her next album, First Love, is tentatively scheduled for release this summer.