Producer sues over Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias” update

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

A version of “Steel Magnolias” is about to debut on Lifetime. But this isn’t a rerun of the 1989 weepy classic starring Dolly Patron, Julia Roberts and Sally Field. Instead, it’s a new, made-for-TV version with an all-black cast that includes Queen Latifah.

Although that may sound like an interesting adaptation, not everyone is excited about it. On Monday, a producer of the 1989 film version sued Lifetime Entertainment, A&E Networks and Sony Pictures Television over the new adaptation, alleging that it is being made without her necessary permission.

This case is a good example of why Miami artists and entertainers need to make sure that their claims to any intellectual property assets they might have are ironclad and reflected in clear, concise, tightly drafted documents. It doesn’t seem that this dispute will keep the movie from airing, but this type of disagreement has derailed many a project.

When she helped make the 1989 “Steel Magnolias,” the producer had a production company. That production company was purchased by Sony Pictures Television. Now, Sony claims that purchase gave it the right to remake “Steel Magnolias” for TV and the producer says it does not.

The producer is asking for a $5,000 fee per episode (in case there are multiple made-for-TV versions), a $10,000 bonus and a share of the net profits, as well as a producer credit. She notes that there was a 1992 remake of “Steel Magnolias: for CBS television for which she received compensation and a credit.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “‘Steel Magnolias’ Producer Sues Over Lifetime Remake,” Alex Ben Block, Oct. 1, 2012