Big-screen re­makes of Stein­beck books stuck in court bat­tle

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - GO! -

The late John Stein­beck’s step­daugh­ter told ju­rors in fed­eral court in Los An­ge­les on Tues­day that film re­makes of “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden” fell apart be­cause the au­thor’s son and daugh­ter-in-law im­peded the projects.

Waverly Scott Kaffaga al­leges that long-run­ning lit­i­ga­tion over the au­thor’s es­tate has pre­vented her from mak­ing the most of Stein­beck’s copy­rights at a time when mar­quee names such as Steven Spiel­berg and Jen­nifer Lawrence were in­ter­ested in bring­ing some of his mas­ter­pieces back to the screen.

“The cat­a­log has been dirt­ied by these le­gal­i­ties,” Kaffaga said. “The whole Stein­beck canon has been put into doubt.”

Kaffaga, daugh­ter of the au­thor’s third wife, Elaine, is su­ing the es­tate of step­brother Thomas Stein­beck, who died last year, and his widow, Gail, and their com­pany.

The law­suit fol­lows a decades­long dis­pute be­tween Thomas Stein­beck and Kaffaga’s mother over con­trol of the au­thor’s works.

Thomas Stein­beck lost most rounds in court, in­clud­ing a law­suit he and the daugh­ter of his late brother, John Stein­beck IV, brought that spurred Kaffaga to coun­ter­sue in the cur­rent case.

A judge al­ready ruled the cou­ple breached a con­tract with Kaffaga. Ju­rors must de­cide whether Thomas and Gail Stein­beck in­ter­fered with deals and should pay up.

At­tor­neys for Kaffaga did not name a price in court, but Gail Stein­beck said they pre­vi­ously asked the judge for $6.5 mil­lion plus puni­tive dam­ages.

John Stein­beck died in 1968.


Waverly Scott Kaffaga, step­daugh­ter of John Stein­beck, leaves fed­eral court in Los An­ge­les on Tues­day.

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