Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beatty Hangs Onto His "Dick Tracy"

After 21 years of inactivity, following his 1990 starring and directing turn adapting creator Chester Gould's newspaper comic strip detective character "Dick Tracy", actor/producer Warren Beatty has won his lawsuit against a unit of Tribune Co, to prevent Tribune from taking back film/TV rights to creator Chester Gould's newspaper comic strip detective character.

Budgeted at $47 million, Beatty's "Dick Tracy" earned $103,738,726 domestic and $59,000,000 foreign for a worldwide box office of $162,738,726.

According to court documents, rights to the character would have reverted back 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, giving him two years to begin production on new "Dick Tracy" programing.

"Tribune asserted it still wanted to terminate Beatty's 'Dick Tracy" rights and effect a reversion, and purported to do so," the lawsuit said, with Beatty seeking a declaration that his work on a developing "Dick Tracy" documentary TV special precludes Tribune from taking back rights to the property.

Gould's "Dick Tracy" debuted October 4, 1931, reflecting the violence of gangster Al Capone's 1930's Chicago, while staying current with crime fighting techniques, forensic science and advanced gadgetry.

The "Dick Tracy" rogues gallery of villains included 'Flattop', 'Bigboy', 'Pruneface', 'Itchy' and 'The Mole'.

January 1946, Gould introduced Tracy's '2-Way Wrist Radio', upgraded to a '2-Way Wrist TV' in 1964.

The character had a long run on radio, 1934 to 1948, with the special "Dick Tracy In B Flat" in 1945, starring Bing Crosby as Tracy, singer Dinah Shore as girlfriend 'Tess Trueheart' and 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 the features "Dick Tracy, Detective" (1945) and "Dick Tracy vs. Cueball" (1946) starring Morgan Conway.

Villains in the RKO film series included Mike Mazurki as 'Splitface', Dick Wessel as 'Cueball', Esther Howard as 'Filthy Flora' and Jack Lambert as 'The Claw'.

A TV series starring Byrd again, aired on ABC from 1950 to 1951.

The first animated Tracy TV series "The Dick Tracy Show" was produced from 1960 to 1961 by UPA, starring 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 Dozier ("Batman"), developed a live-action TV pilot starring actor Ray MacDonnell.

In 1990, Beatty starred in and directed the Disney feature "Dick Tracy", with Al Pacino as 'Big Boy', Dustin Hoffman as 'Mumbles' and Madonna as 'Breathless Mahoney'.

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 top-ten hits, "Vogue" and "Hanky Panky".

Click the images to enlarge and Sneak Peek Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy"...