Jurors determined that 10 percent of the show‘s success is attributable to material director Des McAnuff and writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice drew from an unpublished biography, Tommy DeVito—Then and Now, by author Rex Woodard.
The decision comes just weeks before the ten-year run of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical is scheduled to end January 15, 2017. The show has spun off international productions, tours, and a movie.
Productions spokespersons have not responded to Playbill.com’s request for comment.
Woodard died in 1991 at the age of 41, after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Woodard’s widow, Donna Corbello, brought the case and had originally said 30 percent of the show’s success was owed to her late husband‘s book.
The musical tracks the career of the singing group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. DeVito, one of the founders of the Four Seasons, co-wrote the book with Woodard before he died. DeVito later said he had written the book on his own and it was used in the preparation of the musical.
According to Forbes, “The jurors did not indicate which parts of the autobiography were copied. Yet, Judge Robert C. Jones identified eleven similarities between the manuscript and the musical, including the dialogue surrounding songs, the characterization of individuals, and the description of scenes.”
No word on whether the show‘s creators will appeal the decision. The case has been ongoing for more than a year.
(Updated November 29, 2016)
SHOP FOR PLAYBILL BRANDED MERCHANDISE AT PLAYBILLSTORE.COM.