Roberto Clemente Family Members And Agent Sued Over Alleged Resale Of Hall Of Famer’s Life Story; CMG Worldwide Calls Claims “Ludicrous”

UPDATED, with comment from CMG: Baseball legend Roberto Clemente is at the center of a new lawsuit over the rights to his life story.

More than 50 years after his death, the Pittsburgh Pirates icon generated renewed interest in the entertainment industry. But a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court claims that two of Clemente’s family members and their agent, CMG, sold off rights to his story even though another production entity held an option to it.

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Read the Roberto Clemente lawsuit.

The plaintiff, Inside the Park LLC, contends that early last year, they were granted “an exclusive and irrevocable option to purchase the rights in and to the creation, production and distribution of a feature film based generally on the life of the late Roberto Clemente and the book Clemente – The True Legacy of an Undying Hero.”

But after the principals of Inside the Park, producer Jonah Hirsch and actor/producer AJ Muñoz, received some publicity over the project, they discovered that their was an “issue” with the rights, according to the lawsuit. In fact, the Clemente family had a previous option agreement with Legendary Pictures Productions that had not expired, according to the suit.

Shortly after a Deadline article was published about the project in March, 2023, an attorney sent an email to CMG, informing them that Thomas Tull’s company Teton Ridge had optioned the “very same” Clemente rights from Legendary, where Tull had served as CEO, according to the lawsuit. But Inside the Park claims that CMG failed to disclose the email to them, and it was only months later that they discovered that the rights were in dispute.

The plaintiffs claim that they were sold the rights as a means to get renewed interest in the Clemente story and the brand, “including the Clemente Family’s closure of a $60 million mini-series deal and a multi-year 7-figure sponsorship deal with Capital One for naming rights to Roberto Clemente Day with Major League Baseball shortly after ITP closed its option of the rights.”

“After Plaintiff worked for two years with A-list talent throughout the industry to get the Roberto Clemente film project off the ground, Defendants’ fraud and breach of contract has caused Plaintiff substantial reputational damage, above and beyond its wasted time, effort and out of pocket expenses,” the lawsuit states.

Joey Roesler, chief operating officer of CMG Worldwide, said in a statement, “CMG Worldwide denies all baseless allegations made by Inside the Park. Our only regret is engaging with ‘producers,’ likely boasting more lawsuits than successful films. We are eager to litigate these ludicrous claims and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to preserving the legacy of one of the greatest Hispanic icons of all time.”

The lawsuit includes claims of breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fraud, and it seeks declaratory relief. It seeks unspecified damages and a declaration that Inside the Park has exclusive ownership of the rights. The plaintiffs claim that they have lost more than $5 million as they have pursued the project.

Luis Clemente and Roberto Clemente Jr., sons of the baseball great, are named in the lawsuit, as is their licensing entity, 21 in Right, and CMG Worldwide and its president, Mark Roesler. Legendary and Teton Ridge also are named. Devin McRae, Peter Scott and Lisa Boswell of Early Sullivan represented the plaintiff.

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