It's the Crash of a Lifetime.
Proving that an Academy Award doesn't guarantee happiness, the producers of this year's Best Picture Oscar winner are at it again.
Crash producer Mark Harris and producer-cowriter Robert Moresco and director-producer-cowriter Paul Haggis have sued the Lifetime network for touting a new series called Angela's Eyes as being "from the producers of the Academy Award-winning movie Crash."
Haggis, Harris and Moresco are demanding that the tagline be removed from radio and TV ads, billboards and all other promo materials.
Two other Crash alums Tom Nunan and Cathy Schulman are behind the Lifetime project.
"Lifetime is seeking to take advantage of the public's lack of understanding of what a producer is," attorney Richard Charnley, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Haggis and the others, told the Los Angeles Times.
Though Crash had six producers, including star Don Cheadle, per Academy rules only two people can be listed on the ballot for Best Picture. The Producers Guild of America determined that Haggis and Schulman were the most active of the lot, prompting financier Bob Yari, who got the film bankrolled, to file a lawsuit against the PGA for denying him due process.
Amid the credit wrangling there also came dueling lawsuits by Yari and Schulman. She claims that Yari allegedly cheated her and Nunan out of more than $2 million. Yari in turn sued her in June to block her producing credit on the upcoming Edward Norton film The Illusionist. (Per IMDb.com, it's still there.)
Charnley also explained to Daily Variety how audiences could possibly--horror of horrors--misconstrue the upcoming Lifetime series as being the direct fruit of his clients' labors.
"There were two Academy Award-winning producers for Crash--one was Paul, and the other was Cathy," he said. "Paul does not sponsor, endorse or promote Angela's Eyes in any way. The billboard suggests that Paul Haggis is somehow involved with Angela's Eyes."
Haggis is currently working on the Irish crime drama The Black Donnellys for NBC's midseason schedule. And NBC isn't exactly hiding the fact that the man who directed Crash and wrote the Million Dollar Baby screenplay is producing.
Saying that a new show is from this or that creative mind in order to generate more buzz is a tried-and-true marketing tactic ("From the mind that brought you Punk'd comes Beauty and the Geek," for example). But Haggis, who recently guest-starred on Entourage as a more manic, anal version of himself, apparently wants to keep his work definitively separate from anything that absolutely isn't his.
"It's unfortunate that the matter got as much traction as it did over the past two weeks," Charnely told Daily Variety. "We had to file in order to protect our clients' rights." The attorney said that he had thought the matter would resolve itself, but that after several weeks of back and forth with Lifetime's legal department, his camp decided to file suit.
So far, though, Lifetime hasn't been moved by the litigation. Press materials handed out by the cable net at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena this week said that Angela's Eyes, about a young FBI agent working to clear the names of her CIA-agent parents who have been imprisoned for treason, comes from "the Academy Award-winning team who produced Crash."