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Fatal Subtraction: The Inside Story of Buchwald V. Paramount Paperback – June, 1996


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New Humor Book from Judd Apatow
From the writer and director of Knocked Up and the producer of Freaks and Geeks comes a collection of intimate, hilarious conversations with the biggest names in comedy from the past thirty years—including Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Roseanne Barr, Harold Ramis, Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Lena Dunham. Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hailed as a landmark victory for writers, Art Buchwald's 1988 lawsuit against Paramount Pictures is the subject of this lengthy, compulsively readable brief written by O'Donnell, the Los Angeles lawyer who represented Buchwald, and Los Angeles Times reporter McDougal. Buchwald and his partner, producer Alan Bernheim, claimed that Paramount had failed to give them credit for the original story of Eddie Murphy's 1988 hit movie Coming to America . Though O'Donnell and McDougal focus on procedural aspects and the courtroom drama, they blow the lid off the major Hollywood studios's sleazy accounting practices, which have enabled them to deprive creative talent of millions of dollars in royalties by claiming that top-grossing films earned zero net profits. Murphy, given credit for the story line in the film, is portrayed here as "a talented human being . . . reduced to a commodity." The authors also unreel withering profiles of director John Landis, Paramount executive Martin Davis, Arsenio Hall and others. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

One of 1988's biggest movie hits was Coming to America , which starred Eddie Murphy. One of Hollywood's biggest lawsuits ever soon ensued when humorist Art Buchwald and his partner, Alain Bernheim, sued Paramount, claiming that they had actually created the story upon which the movie was based. O'Donnell, their attorney, and McDougal, a Los Angeles Times investigative reporter, have turned this legal battle into a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Hollywood really works and how major litigation really takes place. Detailing the dispute from the very beginning to the very bitter end, the authors show how legal strategies evolved (e.g., why the plaintiffs sued for breach of contract, not plagiarism) and the courtroom machinations that culminated in a trial to determine how a blockbuster movie could somehow fail to turn any profit, according to the studio. The strongest depictions, however, are of the cast of characters--sympathetic plaintiffs, overworked attorneys, witnesses both helpful and otherwise, and studio executives who were often either devious or greedy, if not both. Very highly recommended for all collections. (Photos not seen).
- Sally G. Waters, Stetson Law Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 594 pages
  • Publisher: Newstar Pr; 2nd edition (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787104949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787104948
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tallorders on June 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A must read for anyone wanting to try and understand the vagaries of the studio accounting system and how you can get screwed even when your film is profitable.
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By Hells Kitchen on January 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
One of my all-time favorite books. A facinating behind-the-scenes look into one of the most influential Hollywood legal battles of recent history
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