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Stallone brothers embroiled in 'Good Life' fight

movie scenes August 19, 1997
Web posted at: 5:01 a.m. EDT (0901 GMT)

From Correspondent Ron Tank

HOLLYWOOD (CNN) -- The movie is called "The Good Life," but life has been anything but good for those involved in making it.

It's a tale that involves two famous brothers and disgruntled brother and sister filmmakers Alan and Diane Mehrez.

Frank Stallone was the producer and is one of the stars of the low-budget gangster film. The Mehrezes say they hired him because he said he could get his older, more famous brother, Sylvester, to appear for a minimal fee.

But when a promotional reel suggested that instead of a cameo appearance, Sylvester Stallone was the star, the actor sued the filmmakers for $20 million, his average salary for a film these days.

The Mehrezes countersued both Sylvester and Frank Stallone for $50 million, claiming -- among other things -- extortion, death threats, threats of economic reprisal, fraud and breach of contract.

"The Stallone brothers have teamed up to destroy me, to destroy my sister, to destroy our company," says Alan Mehrez.

Time is at issue

The Stallones deny any wrongdoing. Frank says what's at issue is how long his brother was supposed to work.

"I think the most troubling thing is, it's all untrue," he says. "They read the contracts. Obviously they read the contracts, but the contracts said six to eight minutes. He did more than six minutes. He stayed there for 12 hours (and) didn't complain."

Sylvester Stallone says the day after his cameo was done, the Mehrezes fired the film's director and hired someone who was unqualified.

Movie preview of The Good Life
video icon 704 K/17 sec. QuickTime movie

"(They) basically just used the film in a way that it was not the way it was discussed," Sylvester told CNN's "Larry King Live."

That, Sylvester told King, is why he filed the lawsuit, which led to the countersuit and lots of publicity for an otherwise unknown film.

"Any lawsuit, especially in Hollywood, is posturing, is looking for publicity," says film critic Frank Swertlow. "It strikes me that this is a film that no one ever would have heard of but for this lawsuit."

The public has now heard of "The Good Life" and is likely to hear more.

"I have the evidence, OK," says Pierce O'Donnell, the Mehrezes' attorney. "This case is not going to go away quietly."

The Stallone brothers aren't going away either.

"This was a blatant, slanderous, cruel thing to do," Frank says. "And it didn't have to be. It's a movie."

It's also "The Good Life," Hollywood style.

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