Aretha Franklin & ‘Amazing Grace’ Producer “Optimistic” About Ending Dispute Over Documentary

Aretha Franklin inside the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, where she gave two celebrated concerts in 1972. Photo: TIFF40
Aretha Franklin inside the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, where she gave two celebrated concerts in 1972. Photo: TIFF40

The Queen of Soul and Alan Elliott’s latest battle over Amazing Grace has been going on for more than six months and two film festivals, but they think they might have a deal – if they can get more time. “Since the entry of the First Order in September 2015, the Parties have been engaged in extensive and extended negotiations seeking a resolution to this dispute,” said a motion filed by lawyers for Aretha Franklin and the producer today. “These negotiations have taken place in good faith,” it adds. “The negotiations, which involve third parties, are very complex.”

With the latest extension expir[ing] March 10, this injunction motion seeks to stop Elliot from showing the Sydney Pollack-directed film, which centered on Franklin’s lauded 1972 performance in L.A.’s New Missionary Baptist Church, to potential buyers or anyone else. The filing in federal court in Colorado also wants to close the case but leave an open option to start it all up again if things fall apart – again.

“Unfortunately, given the complexity of the negotiations and the multiple parties involved (including persons or entities not involved in this litigation), there is, at present, no assurance that a final resolution will be reached in the near term,” said Neal Cohen for Elliott and N. Reid Neureiter for Franklin. “The Parties are optimistic that the stars will eventually align, but cannot in good conscience represent to the Court that there will be a final resolution in an additional 30 or even 60 days” (read it here).

Hard to be as optimistic as the participants when the fact is they haven’t been able to work it out since September and back in 2011 the two sides had worked out a settlement over Amazing Grace that then fell apart when the film was set to play at Telluride. Franklin said that Elliott did not have her stated permission to show the film, which was part of the 2011 deal. After getting a temporary restraining order on September 4 last year for the Telluride screening and seeing the docu pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, the dispute between the litigious legendary singer and Elliott blew up again after a private screening up north. Since then, with the exception of a number of extensions, the parties have been pretty quiet trying to figure out who gets what from Amazing Grace – with Frankin’s side estimating that there are millions to be made from the pic, for which WME is the sales agent.

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SOURCE: Deadline – Dominic Patten

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