Author Carlos Moore Files Lawsuit Against Fela! Producers

News   Author Carlos Moore Files Lawsuit Against Fela! Producers
Carlos Moore, author of the 1982 book, "Fela, Fela: This Bitch of a Life," has filed a lawsuit against the producers of the Broadway musical Fela!, according to the New York Post.

Moore has asked the courts to close the show, claiming the producers stole his work.

In the $5 million copyright suit, the author says in 2007 he was offered $4,000 for the rights to his biography, but rejected the sum as "grossly insufficient." According to the court papers, after he demanded "an advance and participation in the royalty pool," no other offers were made.

Moore claims that his book was used by playwright Jim Lewis and director Bill T. Jones to create the musical without his "knowledge, authorization or consent."

A spokesperson for the musical said he was shocked by the lawsuit because the author had taken part in publicity events for Fela! In fact, a video of Moore celebrating the musical can be found on the show's website.

Fela!, the new musical based on the life and music of groundbreaking African composer Fela Anikulapo Kuti, plays the Eugene O'Neill Theatre and is scheduled to conclude its run Jan. 2, 2011. The cast currently features Grammy winner Patti LaBelle. After an acclaimed run Off-Broadway in 2008, Fela! began previews on Broadway Oct. 19, 2009.

Tony-winning Spring Awakening choreographer Bill T. Jones directs and choreographs the production that features a book by Jones and Jim Lewis and utilizes Anikulapo-Kuti's own music. Lewis, a Tony nominee for Chronicle of a Death Foretold, also penned additional lyrics. The musical was conceived by Bill T. Jones, Jim Lewis and Stephen Hendel.

The production incorporates the Afrobeat orchestra Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson, who perform Kuti's music live onstage.

In Fela!, according to production notes, "audiences are welcomed into the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies), [the musical] explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician."

The design team includes scenic and costume designer Marina Draghici, lighting designer Rob Wierzel, sound designer Rob Kaplowitz and projection designer Peter Nigrini. Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean will provide musical arrangements.

The musical, which earned the 2008 Lucille Lortel honor for Best Musical, played an acclaimed engagement at the now-closed 37 Arts in 2008. 37 Arts was also the birthplace of the Tony-winning musical In the Heights.

Fela! is produced by Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, Ruth & Stephen Hendel, Roy Gabay, Edward Tyler Nahem, Slava Smolokowski, Chip Meyrelles/Ken Greiner, Steve Semlitz/Cathy Glazer, Daryl Roth/True Love Productions, Knitting Factory Entertainment and Susan Dietz. In association with Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson.

Fela! won three 2010 Tony Awards: Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design and Best Choreography.


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