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Michael Douglas: Greed Not So Good

by Josh Grossberg
Feb 28, 2006, 2:25 PM PT

For Michael Douglas, these days, greed is not so good, especially when he's the patsy.

The Wall Street Oscar winner has filed suit against two Boca Raton, Florida, television production companies for allegedly misappropriating his mug for commercial gain, according to Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

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Douglas' suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, alleges Family Television Studios and Paradigm Media Group misled the 61-year-old thesp into thinking he was lending his name and image to an educational initiative when he agreed to host the Learning About series. He says the companies represented the series as a "noncommercial, educational format that informs the viewer on a wide range of popular subjects," including music, history and science.

Instead, the complaint states, the video was "highly commercial," with producers using Douglas' star power in advertisements and infomercials to lure corporate sponsors to pony up money for episodes that never aired on public television.

According to court documents obtained by the Sun-Sentinel, Douglas was surprised to learn that footage he shot for Learning About ended up in another program called Simple Living without his permission.

Douglas is asking the court to halt the companies from further using his name and likeness. He is also seeking all profits generated from his participation, which his suit claims is in excess of $5 million because of the harm done to his reputation, plus more than $75,000 in compensation and additional legal costs.

None of the parties immediately commented on the legal action.

Douglas' suit is reminiscent of a $25 million complaint brought by former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite against another company, WJMK, for allegedly misusing his name and image in video segments.

As it turns out, Douglas' deal with Family Television included a clause stipulating that the actor would lend his services to--you guessed it--WJMK.

Aside from lawsuits, Douglas is looking to reenergize his movie-star career. Mr. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who hasn't been seen on the big screen since the 2003 comedy It Runs in the Family with father Kirk Douglas and son Cameron, has several projects in the pipeline. Among them: The Sentinel, a conspiracy thriller about a special agent out to stop the assassination of the President; the comedy You, Me and Dupree with Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon; and the action-adventure flick, Racing the Monsoon, which recalls his swashbuckling days hunting for buried treasure in Romancing the Stone.

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