Roberto Clemente’s Family Sued Over Allegedly Double-Selling Ballplayer’s Life Story Rights

Two producers who attempted to make a biopic about Roberto Clemente are now suing the baseball legend’s sons, alleging that the family twice sold the rights to Clemente’s life story.

Producers Jonah Hirsch and Angel Munoz announced plans in March 2023 to adapt the family-written biography, “Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero,” into a feature film. But after the announcement, the pair discovered that Thomas Tull, the former CEO of Legendary Pictures, was developing his own Clemente feature.

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Legendary, which produced “42,” starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson, had optioned Clemente’s life rights in 2015, intending to produce a film based on the David Maraniss biography “Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball’s Last Hero.”

According to the suit, the Clemente family initially claimed that Legendary had failed to make a payment, causing the life rights to revert back to the family. But that turned out to be untrue, the suit states.

The family did appear to be dissatisfied with Legendary. They voiced criticism that the company was using the Maraniss biography instead of the family’s version and felt that Legendary treated them poorly and “made lots of promises but never proceeded with development of a film,” according to the suit.

Nevertheless, Tull — who exited Legendary in 2017 — is still developing the project through his company, Teton Ridge.

Further discussions among the parties failed to resolve the cloud over the project. The Clemente family and its agent, CMG Worldwide, eventually agreed to refund the full $60,000 option price that Hirsch and Munoz had paid, according to the suit.

The producers contend they are still owed at least $5 million in damages for two years of wasted effort in trying to get the project off the ground, plus reputation damages and out-of-pocket expenses.

Hirsch has previously produced some low-budget films and two TV documentaries about Alcatraz. Munoz is an actor who appeared in several episodes of “General Hospital.”

Their company, Inside the Park, is suing Clemente’s sons, Roberto Jr. and Luis, as well as Legendary Pictures, Teton Ridge and CMG Worldwide. CMG manages the publicity and IP rights for more than 200 celebrities, most of them deceased. Its roster includes baseball stars of yesteryear such as Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Tris Speaker and Roy Campanella. Other clients include Jack Kerouac, Thomas Edison and Malcolm X.

In a statement, CMG said the lawsuit is without merit.

“CMG Worldwide denies all baseless allegations made by Inside the Park,” the company said. “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.”

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