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A New York judge Tuesday ordered stage and movie producer Scott Rudin to stop claiming he has exclusive rights to a musical created by Broadway powerhouses Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman. New York Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman granted a request for a preliminary injunction by Sondheim and Weidman, who claim Rudin was trying to kill the musical. Sondheim and Weidman said the play — “GOLD!” — was scheduled to open in Chicago next September, but that Rudin’s threats of lawsuits scared off the theater operators and the director, Tony-winner Harold Prince. “GOLD!” depicts the lives of Wilson and Addison Minzer, brothers whose notorious scams extended from the Alaska gold rush of the late 1800s to the birth of Hollywood in the 1930s. Rudin’s lawyer, Jonathan Zavin, argued the judge had to find “irreparable harm” to stop Rudin from claiming rights to the play. Zavin also said the injunction violates Rudin’s free speech rights. The judge replied, “He’s already caused irreparable harm” because the musical’s Chicago debut was halted after Rudin wrote threatening cease-and-desist letters. The judge ignored Zavin’s free speech assertion. Rudin said he has the right of first negotiation on “GOLD!” because he was in a group that was assigned producing rights by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., after it bought the rights from Sondheim and Weidman. Sondheim’s lawyer, Gerard Harper, said those rights gave the group until May 20, 2000, to decide whether to proceed with the play’s production. Harper said the rights have reverted to Sondheim and Weidman. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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