Entertainment & Arts

Harry Shearer sues Vivendi over Spinal Tap profits

Harry Shearer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shearer accuses Vivendi of using "blatantly unfair business practices"

Harry Shearer is taking legal action against entertainment group Vivendi, claiming it has denied him and others profits from 1984's This is Spinal Tap.

Shearer alleges that Vivendi, which acquired the film in 1989, engaged in fraud to hide revenues.

The Simpsons actor is seeking $125m (£102m) in compensatory and punitive damages.

Vivendi's UK representative declined to comment when asked to do so by the BBC News website.

"I think it's important to challenge the status quo, not just for myself but for all my fellow artists, musicians and creators," Shearer, 72, said in a video posted on Twitter.

His legal action claims that, "according to Vivendi", the four creators' share of merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was just $81 (£66).

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shearer appears as 'Derek Smalls' in the film and when playing with Spinal Tap

Directed by Rob Reiner, This is Spinal Tap followed the misfortunes of a fictional British rock band as it promotes its latest record.

Shearer, who also voices Simpsons characters as Mr Burns and Ned Flanders, said he, Reiner and the film and band's other creators - Christopher Guest and Michael McKean - had "poured themselves into nurturing and perfecting the paean to rock loudness that has entertained so many people".

Despite the film's success, he said, the four had fallen victim to "fuzzy... entertainment industry accounting schemes" that also had affected others in the industry.

"It is stunning that after all this time... the only people who haven't shared Spinal Tap's success are those who formed the band and created the film in the first place," he added.

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Media captionChristopher Guest discusses This is Spinal Tap on Radio 4's Today programme

Shearer accuses Vivendi of "wilfully manipulating certain accounting data" and "ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes".

"Vivendi and its subsidiaries... have, at least in our case, conducted blatantly unfair business practices," he went on, referencing StudioCanal and Universal Music Group.

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