By Kenneth Jones
19 Dec 2011
A complaint on behalf of artists living and dead had been filed against the producers of the new Broadway musical last spring, around the time of the April 27 Broadway opening of the show at the Broadhurst Theatre.
The complaint had alleged that the new musical "makes use of the details within the individual history and styling of these nationally treasured, lifetime artists."
The complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York sought "damages on behalf of world-famous performers Beverly Lee of The Shirelles, Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jackson, as well as the Estates of [original Shirelles] Doris Coley Jackson and Addie Harris Jackson, for the unauthorized use of their names and likenesses in connection with the new Broadway show, Baby It's You!"
The claim was that the producers of the biographical musical — Warner Bros. Theater Ventures, Inc., Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Broadway Baby, LLC. — "have promoted the musical publicly as 'The Shirelles' Musical' and based the play upon the life and career of The Shirelles, Ms. Warwick and Mr. Jackson."
The musical told the story of New Jersey housewife Florence Greenberg (played by Beth Leavel), who found and promoted artists in the late 1950s and '60s, and ran Scepter Records. The Shirelles are at the center of the musical. It had a summer run on Broadway.
On Dec. 15, a federal judge deemed that that the lawsuit should be discontinued after both sides agreed in principal to settle, THR reported. The settlement details were not made public.
Beverly Lee, a surviving member of the girl-group The Shirelles, owns the trademark to the group's name, according to her lawyers, and continues to perform as The Shirelles (with other singers). The Shirelles were formed in 1958 in New Jersey. Their pop/rock 'n' roll/R&B hits include "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" in 1960, "Dedicated to the One I Love," "Mama Said" and "Big John" in 1961, "Soldier Boy" and "Baby It's You" in 1962. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.