Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Their Own Life Stories

News   Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio Sued for Copyright Infringement Over Their Own Life Stories
A lawsuit filed in Nevada federal court claims that Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio effectively don't own the rights to their own life stories as told in the Tony-winning musical Jersey Boys, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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.

Frankie Valli
Frankie Valli

The book was never published, and Woodard died in 1991 at the age of 41, after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

In 2005 Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman wrote the book to the musical Jersey Boys, taking a similar tack on the story of the guys in the Four Seasons.

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.

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