Lawsuit Claims B.B. King Meddled in "B.B. King and I" Movie

The screenwriter says his movie is based on his own life experiences and relationship with the blues legend

By Sam Schulz
|  Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012  |  Updated 12:12 PM PDT
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A new lawsuit claims that B.B. King tried to meddle in the production of the movie "B.B. King and I."

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B.B. King is being sued for allegedly interfering with the production of a movie, "B.B. King and I," about a screenwriter's relationship with the legendary blues guitarist, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

The lawsuit, which King Size Film Productions filed last week in California, says King's demands on the filmmakers violate their First Amendment rights and would "radically alter the law and strike a severe blow to expressive and artistic freedom."

It also asks the court to declare that the movie is non-infringing and doesn't violate King's trademarks, according to the Reporter.

The movie, which stars Patrick Fugit "Almost Famous" and Wendall Pierce of "The Wire," was written by Michael Zanetis based on his own life experiences and directed by Frank Capra III, grandson of legendary "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" director Frank Capra.

According to the complaint, soon after Zanetis moved to Los Angeles in 1977, he was introduced to B.B. King by his son and soon developed a decades-long friendship with the musician. Zanetis says he helped get King a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame in 1990 after the guitarist helped guide his career in the music industry.

The complaint says that King was supportive of Zanetis' "B.B. King and I" screenplay at first when he wrote it in 2006 — but as the movie began production, King tried to stop it.

According to the suit, King's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter, saying the movie and its associated website violated King's trademarks and publicity rights.

The suit claims that King's demands on the film pushed back production, complicated the title and hampered appeals to movie investors.

King himself couldn't immediately be reached by the Reporter for comment.

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