After 18 years of inactivity, following his starring/directing turn in a 1990 feature, Warren "Bonnie & Clyde" Beatty has sued a unit of Tribune Co, in LA federal court, seeking to prevent Tribune from taking back the film/TV rights to creator Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy" that Beatty has held since 1985.
Beatty's Disney-backed "Dick Tracy" earned more than $160 million at the box office.
According to court papers, rights would revert to Tribune if "a certain period of time" lapsed without Beatty having produced another Dick Tracy movie, TV series or TV special.
Tribune sent Beatty a letter November 17, 2006, that gave him two years to begin production on new "Dick Tracy" programing, with Beatty only waiting until November 8 of this year to produce a "Dick Tracy" TV special.
"Tribune responded by asserting that it still had the right to terminate Beatty's 'Tracy' Rights and effect a reversion, and purported to do so," the lawsuit said, with Beatty seeking a declaration that his work on the Dick Tracy TV special precludes Tribune from taking back rights to the property.
The infamous "Dick Tracy" villains, an ugly rogues gallery of characters included 'Flattop', 'Bigboy', 'Pruneface', 'Itchy' and 'The Mole'.
January 1946, Gould introduced Tracy's '2-Way Wrist Radio', worn as a watch by Tracy, eventually upgrading into a '2-Way Wrist TV' in 1964.
The character had a long run on radio, 1934 to 1948, with a special 1945 "Dick Tracy In B Flat" show starring crooner Bing Crosby as Tracy, singer Dinah Shore as girlfriend 'Tess Trueheart' and comedian Bob Hope as 'Flattop'.
Tracy made his live-action debut in "Dick Tracy" (1937), a Republic Pictures serial starring actor Ralph Byrd. A second serial, "Dick Tracy Returns", was released in 1938, "Dick Tracy's G-Men" in 1939 and "Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc." in 1941, featuring Tracy as an FBI agent, based in California.
RKO Radio Pictures followed with 4 theatrical features, including "Dick Tracy, Detective" (1945) and "Dick Tracy vs. Cueball" (1946) starring actor Morgan Conway. Actor Ralph Byrd returned for "Dick Tracy's Dilemma" and "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome" in 1947, co-starring Boris "Frankenstein" Karloff. Other villains in the RKO film series included actors Mike Mazurki as 'Splitface', Dick Wessel as 'Cueball', Esther Howard as 'Filthy Flora' and Jack Lambert as 'The Claw'.
Early TV series starred Byrd again, in an ABC series from 1950 to 1951.
The first animated Tracy TV series "The Dick Tracy Show" was produced from 1960 to 1961 by UPA, starring actor Everett Sloane as Tracy and Mel Blanc as 'Go-Go Gomez', 'Joe Jitsu', 'Hemlock Holmes' and 'Heap O'Calorie'.
A second Filmation cartoon series was produced in 1971, with short episodes inserted into the show "Archie's TV Funnies".
In 1967, producer William "Batman" Dozier, developed a live-action TV pilot starring actor Ray MacDonnell.
In 1990, Beatty starred/directed the Disney feature "Dick Tracy", co-starring Al Pacino, James Caan, Dustin Hoffman and Madonna. The film won an Academy Award for Best Song, with Madonna's soundtrack album "I'm Breathless: Music from and Inspired by Dick Tracy" spawning the top-ten hits, "Vogue" and "Hanky Panky".
The first Dick Tracy comic book was produced in 1947, followed by Dell and Harvey Comics, Blackthorne Publishing and a Disney tie-in to Beatty's feature...