Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, principals in the band The Four Seasons, are being sued by Donna Corbello, the widow of writer Rex Woodard. She says another band member, Tommy DeVito, promised in the 1980s to recount their life stories in a tell-all authorized biography that would have focused on the band's seamier side. The book reportedly was to have given credit and an equal share of the profits to Woodard.
The book was never published, and Woodard died in 1991 at the age of 41, after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The Hollywood Reporter story says, "It was later discovered that the writers of Jersey Boys and several of its actors had access to Woodard's work, and during Valli's divorce proceedings in 2008, it was learned that DeVito had granted Valli and Gaudio a license to freely use and adapt certain 'materials,' including his 'biographies,' for the making of Jersey Boys."
Among other things, the Tony-winning Best Musical recounts how DeVito's loose ways with money gets him in trouble with the mob, leaving Valli and Gaudio to clean up his financial messes. A suit was filed eight years ago, and a judge initially found that the license didn't cover Woodard's book, but in February of this year the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision.
On Sept. 30 lawyers for Valli and Gaudio tried to get U.S. District Judge Robert Jones to deliver a summary judgment dismissing the suit, but Judge Jones ruled that the suit could go forward.
An expert hired by Corbello claims that as much as 30 percent of Jersey Boys "is attributable to Woodard's book," according to the report.
The case is now scheduled to go to trial in May 2016.