Actors sue Warner for fees

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EIGHTY-NINE British actors and actresses are suing Warner Brothers Productions for failing to pay for repeat showings of five Agatha Christie films.

The television stars, including Timothy West, Dorothy Tutin and Jonathan Pryce, together with the actors' union Equity, claim Warner broke an agreement to pay extra fees if the films were shown more than three times within five years of being made.

The films, made in the early Eighties, include Murder is Easy and Dead Man's Folly. They were all successful and repeatedly shown on television. Equity says Murder is Easy was shown in 1988, 1989 and three times in 1993, and claims its members received no money for the repeats, losing thousands of pounds as a result.

Freddie Jones, who played the policeman in Murder is Easy and who is pursuing the case against Warner, said: 'Many actors and actresses rely on these residuals (repeat fees). We are hoping that these productions we did in the past will pay the rent.'

Equity and the other plaintiffs are suing Warner for damages and lost fees and are trying to force the company to account for any extra profits it made as a result of the 'unauthorised' showing of the films. They are also seeking a court ruling stating that the films were reshown without the correct authorisation and were in breach of an agreement made with the actors, plus a ruling to prevent the films being shown again without Equity's consent.

Equity issued a writ in the Chancery Division of the High Court on 30 September on Warner Brothers Productions, which has yet to respond.