Oscar-winning Weinsteins face bribery lawsuit

Bialystok and Bloom

Bialystok and Bloom

Just days after they won the Best Film Oscar for The King’s Speech, studio heads Harvey and Bob Weinstein have been accused of trying to bribe their way out of bad publicity.

The makers of an animated film Escape From Planet Earth have filed a £33 million lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against the Weinstein Company. The suit alleges that the brothers have behaved like the fictional Jewish fraudsters in the satirical film The Producers.

Brian Inerfeld and Tony Leech claimed that the Weinsteins deliberately sabotaged Escape From Planet Earth then, fearful of a backlash before the Academy Awards, paid them £333,000 to keep quiet about it.

Mr Inerfeld and Mr Leech, who worked with the Weinsteins on the 2005 box office success Hoodwinked, said their film was "sabotaged...through a potent combination of hubris, incompetence, profligate spending, and contempt for contractual obligations".

They added: "The Weinsteins are a real life version of Bialystok and Bloom."

The film was originally scheduled for release more than two years ago, but has still not appeared in cinemas.

Mr Leech and Mr Inerfeld’s lawyer said: "The Weinsteins, knowing that they had been guilty of incompetence and fraud...did not want to take the chance that their reputations would be sullied by the truth at the time that the voting for the Oscars was under way.”

But the Weinsteins claimed they were the victims of an extortion plan. Their lawyers said the case was "frivolous" and "slanderous" and that they had kept to the terms of the contract.

Last updated: 2:59pm, March 3 2011