Charles Moore, the author of Fela Fela: Cette Putain or Fela: This Bitch of a Life is suing the Broadway production for $5,000,000. Reportedly, seven years ago Charles Moore was offered $4,000 for the rights to turn his book into a musical, but he rejected the offer. He counter-offered for an advance and royalties, but the Broadway production fell short and didn’t honor his offer.
The playwrights Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones moved forward with creating the musical, but made the grave mistake of using Charles Moore book to develop the play without his consent. According to the court filings entire sections of his book were used in the musical.
Moore is requesting that all future shows are shut down and cease production until the court rulings are completed. This has yet been the case as the courts have not shut down production yet. Fela! is set to premier in London at the National Theater. The NY Broadway performance has been going extremely well and has been nominated for eleven 2010 Tony Awards since its first induction on Broadway in 2009. It’s unlikely the courts will shut down production, but who knows. I’d expect this whole thing to go away with an out of court settlement.
Jay-Z, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and QuestLove of the Roots each have a vested interest in the musical, either through financial contributions or otherwise. In the lawsuit luckily none of them has been named as defendants.
I gotta say, shame on Jim Lewis and Bill T. Jones whom are both co-defendants in the lawsuit. These guys really tried to pay only $4,000 to the rights of someone’s else work. I am writing a book now and if someone tried to pay me only four thousand to the rights (especially to make a musical) then I would almost laugh in their face. It is insulting. These knuckle heads will recoup that measly $4K and thensome on the first night’s opening. Who are they trying to fool? They should have fairly paid the man an advancement fee and negotiated a fair royalty based agreement for proceeds after the play was in production. If they did this then they wouldn’t be in this mess right now, being sued for five million dollars. Then these guys have the nerve to get support and financial backing from some of the biggest names and highest earners in the entertainment industry Jay-Z and Will Smith. What a bunch of bull!
In case you are not familiar, Fela! is the story about Fela Kuti, a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. It is an inspiring and motivational portrayal of an Afro-centric young man who uplifts people and insert his political rederick through musical expression.
Anyway, I make the suggestion that you go and watch Fela! now if you haven’t done so already, before it’s too late and production stops. Right now all is fine and production has not stopped, so go get your tickets, HURRY! Click here to buy Fela! tickets today.