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Producer, actors lose appeal in Weinstein Co. bankruptcy

DOVER, Del. — A federal judge in Delaware has rejected an appeal by the producer and stars of the film "Silver Linings Playbook" stemming from a ruling in The Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case.

The judge on Friday upheld the bankruptcy court's decision in a lawsuit filed against producer Bruce Cohen by Spyglass Media Group. Spyglass bought The Weinstein Co.'s assets in bankruptcy for $289 million in 2018.

The suit against Cohen was seen as a test case to determine how to handle claims asserted by several Hollywood stars who said they were owed royalties and profit participation payments from various film and television projects.

Spyglass sought and received a court ruling that Cohen's production contract for "Silver Linings" was not executory, meaning that Spyglass was not liable for any prior contingent compensation obligations under the contract and that it purchased the rights to the film free and clear.

Cohen appealed the ruling, joined by actors Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro and director David O. Russell. The Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the Writers Guild of America West filed a brief in support of the appellants.

The district court judge ruled Friday that the Weinstein Co. had acquired the rights to the film long ago could thus sell those rights to Spyglass free and clear of all claims as part of the bankruptcy asset sale.

The Weinstein Co. sought bankruptcy protection in 2018 amid a sexual misconduct scandal that brought down co-founder Harvey Weinstein and triggered a nationwide movement to address predatory sexual behaviour and harassment in the workplace.

Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison last week after being convicted in New York last month of rape and sexual assault.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles are seeking his extradition to California to face charges of raping raped a woman and sexually assaulting another in 2013.

Randall Chase, The Associated Press