Now that the warm glow of three Oscar wins (and the bitter sting of one huge loss) is finally fading into memory, it's time for those involved in Brokeback Mountain to start suing each other for pieces of the movie's unexpected financial success. Brokeback supporting player Randy Quaid, who played the grizzled ranch boss whose employment opportunities brought together tragic lovers Jack and Ennis, is first out of the gate with a suit claiming the actor was misled into thinking that the movie was just a lil' old gay cowboy tone poem with little chance of scaring up any profits, thus depressing the asking price for his services. Reports Variety:
"Defendants were engaging in a 'movie laundering' scheme designed to obtain the services of talent such as Randy Quaid on economically unfavorable art film terms for a picture that, in reality, had studio backing and would be exploited using traditional studio marketing and distribution techniques," the lawsuit states. [...]
Quaid is asking to be awarded $10 million, the amount the lawsuit suggests he would have received had Focus been upfront about its intentions for "Brokeback," which has grossed nearly $160 million worldwide.
"Randy Quaid is an instantly recognizable household name and much-admired actor on the world's stage with a worldwide box office total of nearly $2 billion. His likeness, talent and name are worth millions of dollars and are solely his property," the lawsuit states. [...]
According to the suit, Lee told Quaid during a meeting that "we can't pay anything, we have very little money, everyone is making a sacrifice to make this film."
Not that we'd ever argue about Quaid's billion-dollar box office appeal, but doesn't $10 million sound like a ridiculous sum? To the best of our recollection, Quaid appeared in four scenes (hiring, firing, spying, and no rehiring), putting his per-scene asking price at $2.5 million, Marlon-Brando-in-ten-minutes-of-Superman money. We'd never profess to know what exactly Quaid was promised beforehand or what went on during the shoot, but suddenly we're suspicious that several scenes of Quaid teaching young Jack Twist the finer points of the gay cowboy bottoming arts wound up on the cutting room floor, robbing him of the critical adulation enjoyed by his upstart co-stars.
- Poor sport or pitifully underpaid? [Variety]