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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Cage film 'faces lawsuit'
Nicolas Cage
Sonny is Nicolas Cage's directorial debut
Nicolas Cage is facing legal action over his directorial debut from a man who claims he has not been credited for his work on the screenplay, according to reports.

The film, Sonny, is due to première at the Deauville Film Festival, which begins in France this weekend.

However, TV scriptwriter Robert Dellinger has filed a lawsuit against Cage and five companies involved with the film, including Cage's company Saturn Films and production company Intermedia, Variety newspaper reported.

Mr Dellinger is seeking $2m (£1.3m) in damages and also trying to block its release overseas.

Sonny tells the story of a young man who is raised in a brothel and becomes a prostitute.

I knew it was my project - there's never been one like it in Hollywood

Robert Dellinger

The script is credited to writer John Carlen, but Mr Dellinger is claiming that it borrows substantially from four separate scripts he wrote with Carlen in the 1970s.

He is suing for copyright infringement and for failing to be identified as a co-author of the film.

Mr Dellinger, who has written scripts for a string of TV shows including Starsky And Hutch, Kojak and 21 Jump Street, first met ex-convict Mr Carlen in 1975 while he was teaching a a creative writing course in a Los Angeles prison.

Mr Carlen, who was serving a sentence for bank robbery at the time, was a student in Dellinger's class and the two subsequently wrote a number of scripts together.
Mena Suari
Mena Suvari is one of the stars of the film

Several attempts were made to get Sonny made into a film in the 1970s, until Mr Carlen was arrested for attempted robbery in San Diego, and pleaded insanity at his trial, claiming he was acting out one of his own screenplays.

Cage was linked with the project in the 1980s, but does not star in the film. Up-and-coming actor James Franco plays the lead, while Mena Suvari and Brenda Blethyn co-star.

"I knew it was my project. There's never been one like it in Hollywood," said Mr Dellinger. "My reaction was stunned disbelief that that project would go ahead."

See also:

12 Aug 02 | Showbiz
30 Apr 99 | Entertainment
19 Apr 01 | Film
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