He Demands a Recount: A 'Swing Vote' Credit Dispute
"Swing Vote" lasted barely a month in movie theaters. It's enjoying a much longer life in the courts.
A federal lawsuit filed by a former Bush White House aide who claims that filmmakers stole his idea is still in the opening-salvo stage, three months after the Kevin Costner flick about election high jinks debuted. Bradley Blakeman -- a cable TV commentator and former president of conservative lobbying group Freedom's Watch -- says he shared his story idea ("a unique 'down-to-the-wire' presidential election hinging on swing voters") with Kelsey Grammer in fall 2006 and that the actor's production company agreed to develop it, with Grammer starring as the president. Next thing he knew, Grammer was co-starring in a movie that sounded to him like his own.
Blakeman cites advice he gave Grammer's folks (i.e., "that the real life 2008 presidential election would be decided by 'swing voters' " -- you don't say!) and similarities between the stories (both involve "dirty tricks").
Possible legal hurdle: Grammer didn't actually produce "Swing Vote." Lawyers for Disney and Touchstone Pictures, which did, denied Blakeman's allegation in filings this month. In his own response, Grammer admits discussing Blakeman's idea (they met via a White House tour, he says) but denies that he agreed to star or brought it to Disney. He also denies that Blakeman's pitch was "commercially, economically and theatrically viable."
Speaking of which: Is there much to gain from a $21 million movie that made only $16 million? Blakeman's lawyer did not return a phone call.
The Reliable Source
October 28, 2008; 1:03 AM ET
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