By Robyn Collins
Two of the main actors in the classic rock mockumentary This is Spinal Tap and director and narrator Rob Reiner have joined their creative partner in the movie, Harry Shearer, in his legal battle against French firm Vivendi, reports The Guardian.
Christopher Guest, who plays guitarist Nigel Tufnel in the movie and Michael McKean, who plays vocalist and guitarist David St Hubbins are suing Vivendi for $400 million. Originally, Shearer, who plays bassist Derek Smalls, had sued for $125 million, but the stakes have been raised due to the alleged misdeeds of the parent company.
The quartet claim Vivendi manipulated accounting information and ignored contractually obligated accounting and reporting processes to deny them their rightful stake in the film’s profits. The complaint claims that between the years of 1989 and 2006, Vivendi reported that the total income from soundtrack music sales was just $98.
It also states that Vivendi reported that the four creators’ share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was $81, despite the fact that music and merch from the cult classic made “tens of millions of dollars” in revenue.
“The deliberate obfuscation by Vivendi and its subsidiaries is an outrage. It is vital that such behavior is challenged in the strongest way possible,” says Guest.
“Fair reward for artistic endeavor has long been raised by those on the wrong end of the equation. What makes this case so egregious is the prolonged and deliberate concealment of profit and the purposeful manipulation of revenue allocation between various Vivendi subsidiaries – to the detriment of the creative talent behind the band and film. Such anti-competitive practices need to be exposed. I am hoping this lawsuit goes to 11,” adds Reiner.
“This is Spinal Tap was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun,” said McKean. “The movie’s influence on the last three decades of film comedy is something we are very proud of. But the buck always stopped somewhere short of Rob, Harry, Chris and myself. It’s time for a reckoning. It’s only right.”
Shearer commented on his co-creators’ decision to join, saying, “Their participation will help demonstrate the opaque and misleading conduct at the heart of this case. We’re even louder now.”