Could a huge Four Seasons fan be responsible for part of the script of Jersey Boys? Fans have always been passionate about finding out and telling the story of the group and one good friend to all Four Seasons fans, Rex Woodard went so far as to write a biography based on taped interviews with Tommy De Vito and Nick Massi. The trouble was that although Rex was an attorney and set up a legal document with Tommy agreeing to share profits, as he sought a publisher, he tragically died before he could find one.
So when his widow discovered that the script of Jersey Boys closely resembled the ‘Book’ her husband had written, she filed a law suit in Texas. She claims the unpublished book "inspired the form, structure, and content of the musical."
Details first appeared on Playbill.com back in 2008 and a long and complex court battle has ensued.
Tommy DeVito, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio and all associated with the financial and legal rights to ‘Jersey Boys’ suffered a major setback last year in Nevada District Court when one of several Summary Judgements acknowledged the co-authorship of Rex Woodard to the book Tommy DeVito made available to the script writers for the show. The Judge instructed accounting procedures re Rex’s co-authorship be put in place but did not rule on the extent of the book’s use in the script.
Legal blogger Pamela Chestek summarises some of the issues in her 2012 blog following these summary judgement’s handed down by the courts, but the case continues under several heads and although a court trial was planned this year no dates for this or the appeals appear to have been set.
It is all a bit reminiscent of the un-savoury legal suits that arose between The Beatles and their management after their ‘break-up’ back in the 70s which dragged on for several years. But with so much money at stake it is not really surprising.
Several of us knew Rex well back in the 70s and 80s and he was a warm friend with great integrity. He contributed to a number of articles in our 70s and 80s Newsletters.
The trouble in 2012, as far as fans who dream of seeing Jersey Boys as a movie, is that it may be some way off. Publicity articles and forecasts for the film coming out may be just ‘hype’. The courts were told in November 2012 that no deal with GK films had been signed and it would, it appears, be difficult to transfer the script lines into the film if they are still subject to litigation. Elice and Rickman are not signed up, we understand, to do the film script, so make your own judgement!! The case continues and for some time it looks as if we will have to look to Jersey Boys ‘on stage’ for our favourite ‘interpretation’ of the Four Seasons music and story……or is it becoming the definitive story?……for now maybe……. as we research more on The Rise and Fall of The NEW Four Seasons over the next year. Check out Chapters 5 to 11 here.