Is it just Gothamist or does anyone else wish they were selected for jury duty at the United State District Court in Manhattan after reading the NY Times story about dodgeball movie dreams and theft. Judge Shira Scheindlin, the same judge who presided over the most recent John Gotti Jr. trial, ruled that a lawsuit from David Price, a national amateur dodgeball champion, and his writing partner Ashoka Thomas against the makers of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story could go forward.
Price and Thomas claim that the 2004 film is very similar to a story they wrote, and Scheindlin agreed that the case should be heard by a jury to determine "whether a copyright foul had been committed," as the Times puts it. Copyright foul? We sort of hope a ref can be in the courtroom. Anyway, reporter William Glaberson has a good time describing the ruling:
Evidence gathered in the case, Judge Scheindlin wrote, showed that both scripts were tales of misfits who form underdog dodgeball teams with demented coaches in wheelchairs who die in freakish accidents, then come back as ghosts to give advice on how to win. Some characters had the same or similar names and characteristics.
The judge wrote, for example, that Gordo, a character in the unmade script, and Gordon, a timid employee and teammate of Mr. Vaughn’s in the 2004 movie, are both fat and have a flaw they must overcome to help the team defeat a team of bullies.
Gordon, she wrote, must channel his anger while “Gordo must overcome his fear of using other people’s toilet paper.” It may have been a while since a federal judge wrote a line like that.
A lawyer for Rawon Marshall Thurber, the writer and director of Dodgeball, and the other defendants having claimed the two stories' similarities were pure coincidence ("the subplot in plaintiffs’ screenplay about Gordo and his defecation obsession has no analogue in defendants’ motion picture"), but to no avail, as Judge Scheindlin noted that Price and Thomas's script was given to an agent's assistant "with some ties to Thurber." Dunh dunh DUNH!
The article also looks at Thurber's film experience (he did the Terry Tate Reebok commercials, now he's finished writing and directing the adaptation of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh) as well as Price's dodgeball experience, show business aspirations, and what Price finds funny ("an overweight guy get hit in the face and falling over").
Recently, Radar magazine looked at how the phenomenon of stealing comedy - stand-up comedy bits that is - is prevalent.