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'Crash' case takes bad turn for Yari

October 13, 2009 |  6:26 pm

The two-year old lawsuit over profits from the best picture winner "Crash" took a turn for the worse for producer Bob Yari. 

Yari is being sued by "Crash" screenwriters Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco and actor Brendan Fraser, who claim they are owed millions in profits from the Academy-Award-winning film. 

Haggis, who also directed the film, contends that Yari applied a series of "bogus" deductions to deprive them of their share of the profits from the film, which generated about $100 million at the box office. Fraser also alleges that he was shortchanged by Yari's accounting of the film's profits.

Haggis2 Those claims got a boost on Tuesday when a court-appointed referee, Gerald F. Phillips, concluded after eight days of hearings that several of the deductions -- including payments to a third party German investor named Apollo ProScreen -- should not have been taken.

At one point in the 21-page report, Phillips said the manner in which Yari accounted for the film's revenue in 2006 "may be characterized as creative accounting."

Yari's attorney, Behzad Nahai, could not be reached for comment.

Such findings of fact are recommendations made to the court by a neutral third party. As such, they can carry considerable weight in the court's final ruling. The judge handling the Los Angeles Superior Court case is Helen I. Bendix, who will consider the recommendations when the second phase of the trial begins Dec. 2.

"We are pleased with the recommendations made by the referee,'' said Richard L. Charnley, attorney for the plaintiffs. "We believe that writers, directors, producers, actors and creative people who make motion pictures and who are getting paid less than their going rate should be entitled to their fair share of the profits of the film."

--Richard Verrier

Photo: Paul Haggis. Credit: Charley Gallay / Getty Images