FILM / Rushes

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The Independent Culture
What's in a name? Quite a lot, according to Stephen King, who has been granted an injunction banning Allied Vision, the British producers of The Lawnmower Man, from using the horror writer's monicker in connection with the movie. King claimed that Lawnmower Man has little in common with his short story of the same name beyond the title and a few brief scenes (see Rushes passim). Last week a New York judge agreed, granting an injunction pending a full hearing in November (by which time the film will have reached the end of its natural theatrical life).

But Peter McRae, Allied Vision's managing director, claims: 'This is not an end to the matter. We have appealed against the injunction and are waiting for the result of that appeal. In the interim we have complied as far as we are able.' That would explain the strips of black masking-tape that have now mysteriously appeared around the country on posters advertising the film. What is less clear is why, if he is so alarmed by The Lawnmower Man, King should be happy to have his name plastered all over the vastly inferior Sleepwalkers, which is also doing the rounds.

Thirty-six years after coming to grief at the wheel of his Porsche Spyder, James Dean continues to prove there is life after death. Dean is still one of the world's most marketable stars - and this week, his former studio and a foundation controlled by his family met in a Los Angeles court-room to decide who has the right to do the marketing.

At issue was whether Dean's 1954 contract with Warner Brothers gives the studio the right to earnings from Dean's persona - advertising revenue and souvenir sales are still worth millions of dollars a year. Warners contends that it has been defrauded of at least dollars 30m since 1984, when the Curtis Management Group started licensing the Dean image for the James Dean Foundation Trust, which comprises the actor's aunt and two cousins.

'They're taking . . . photos and putting them on merchandise,' Stephen Tropp, a Warner Bros attorney told the court. 'Simply put, they're selling stuff that we own.' The studio is seeking the income owed, plus dollars 90m in damages, as well as the marketing rights to Dean's name and image. So much for resting in peace.

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