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James Franco Sued For Allegedly Stealing ‘Ham on Rye’ for a Movie

James Franco is being sued for copyright infringement over the source material for his movie about author Charles Bukowski. (Photo: Getty)

James Franco is being sued for copyright infringement over the source material for his movie about author Charles Bukowski. (Photo: Getty)

James Franco was such a fan of Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novel “Ham on Rye” he optioned the rights to make it a movie. But he waited until the option expired to write a screenplay, according to a federal copyright lawsuit.

London-based screenwriter Cyril Humphris, who owns the rights to Bukowski’s 1982 novel, claims in the lawsuit that Franco’s upcoming movie infringes on his rights because it uses several elements from the book.

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He’s seeking $150,000 in damages and an injunction to block distribution of the movie.

Franco claims he co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with his brother Dave Franco based on a biography of Bukowski, not “Ham on Rye.”

The novel is about Bukowski’s abusive father and tortured childhood in Depression-era Los Angeles. Franco’s movie deals with the same time period.

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“The film borrows the novel’s themes of childhood loneliness; adolescent self-consciousness; the failures, hypocrisy, and cruelty of adults; and, in an unflinching depiction, the crude interest teenage boys take in sex,” the federal lawsuit claims.

“The mood in both works is dark but humorous, through successive scenes in which the boy is attacked by his father, belittled by other adults, or humiliated in front of his peers,” it adds.

When Humphris approached Franco about the similarities, he claims the actor told him he was “doing a little project with some of my NYU colleagues based on one of Bukowski’s biographies.'”

Franco refused to produce the script for an examination of similarities to “Ham on Rye,” Humphris claims.

Franco directed the movie, titled “Bukowski.” It stars Josh Peck and Shannen Doherty and will be released sometime this year, according to the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.

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