Editor’s note: normally, we focus on the most ridiculous celebrity lawsuit we can dig up each week. This time, however, we are legit 1000% behind Harry Shearer and the rest of the Spinal Tap folks getting all the money. Gobs of money. Torrents of money.
At the top of the list of most-quotable movies sits the cult classic mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. The band members and their tragic-yet-endearing circumstances have imbedded themselves into our pop culture landscape. Quick, rattle one off. Too easy, right? There are just so many to choose from:
“These go to 11.”
“You can’t really dust for vomit.”
“This piece is called ‘Lick My Love Pump.’”
“If I told them once, I told them a hundred times to put Spinal Tap first and Puppet Show last.”
While the movie was released in 1984, the three actors who portray musicians David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) actually created the band in the ’70s. Seeing as you can get everything from Spinal Tap T-shirts to mugs, hats, and pins, the trio must have made a fortune from all the movie merchandise, right? Wrong-o!
In total, over the past 30-plus years, they have received $81 in merchandising sales and $98 in musical profit. Did Artie Fufkin set up their royalty deal?
Harry Shearer, understandably, now suing movie studio Vivendi and StudioCanal for a cool $125 million; the Simpsons voice actor alleges fraud and breach of contract. The suit claims that Shearer, McKean, Guest, and director Rob Reiner were all contracted to receive 40 percent of net receipts. But Vivendi has not been on the up and up with its accounting practices.
“The accounting between the Vivendi subsidiaries is not at arm’s-length, is anti-competitive, and deprives the TIST creators of a fair reward for their services,” the lawsuit states.
“Particularly given that Vivendi has offset fraudulent accounting for revenues from music copyrights against equally dubious revenue streams for film and merchandising rights also controlled by Vivendi subsidiaries, Shearer is concurrently filing notices of copyright termination for publishing and recording rights in Spinal Tap songs he co-wrote and co-recorded, as well as in the film itself.”
So Shearer is hoping to get the rights to Spinal Tap back where they belong: with its creators!
We know this lawsuit is going to bring forth so much ugliness, but for now, let’s look back at the good old days, shall we?
Talk about mud flaps, my gal’s got ’em!