Writers are notoriously given short shrift in Hollywood, and Mordecai Richler, who co-wrote the original 1977 version of Fun With Dick and Jane, apparently isn't getting his due credit this time around.
The late, great novelist wrote the 1977 script along with two others, David Giler and Jerry Belson, based on a story by Gerald Gaiser.
In ads for the remake (which opens today), Gaiser has been given credit for the story, along with two other writers, Judd Apatow and Nicholas Stoller. The latter two are listed as writers of the screenplay.
Where does this leave Richler?
Noah Richler, the writer's son, said he wasn't aware of the remake until he saw a billboard for the film. But Toronto lawyer Michael Levine, who represents Mordecai Richler Productions Inc. (which controls the late writer's rights), has been aware of the remake for months.
The new film's producers weren't able to settle who gets what credit before the movie's release. The matter is now being settled through an arbitration process with the Writers Guild of America.
"I think it would be misspoken to say that he didn't get the proper credit. It's a question of arbitration [as to]what is the proper credit. And unfortunately this didn't seem to get resolved before the movie came out. It's kind of one of those Hollywood stories," Levine said.
In other words, this sort of thing happens sometimes. On the other hand, Levine said it was "sloppy" of the producers of the remake to let the dispute get to this stage.
Since the movie is already released, it seems hard to add Richler's name to the credits. What is at stake is financial credit and the legal protection of Richler's legacy.
A spokesperson for Sony Pictures (the parent of Columbia Pictures, which is releasing the remake) wasn't available yesterday for comment.