Weary of excuses over non-payment of fees, producer Val Gobos sues Martin Scorsese, others

After waiting years for money to collect fees owed her for linking a Greek director’s film with Martin Scorsese production company, Valerie Gobos has filed a law suit against their two companies.

Gobos’ suit claims breach of contract and deceptive business practices and other claims, according to her attorney, Mark D. Belongia.

In 1996, Gobos, a commercial directors’ rep, met Athens-based director Pantelis Voulgaris and his wife, screenwriter Ioanna Karistiani, of Alco Productions, at a reception at hosted by the Greek consul of Chicago following the screening here of a Greek-made film.

The couple was enthusiastic about Karistiani’s screenplay, “Brides,” about a 1922 Greek mail order bride in New York. They told Gobos they were in search of an American funding source.

Gobos, who is Greek, liked the project and offered to help. Shortly thereafter she introduced the screenplay to Martin Scorcese, whom she knew admired Voulgaris’ work.

After years of negotiation between the two companies, Scorsese signed on as executive director and his then-wife, Barbara DeFina, as producer, under the banner of their now-defunct Cappa Productions.

Gobos fee, contractually agreed by both entities, was to be paid out of “Brides” production budget during the course of the filming. Instead, she was prevailed upon to reduce her fee.

While the shooting was in progress, the producers realized their budget was tighter than anticipated. As a consequence, “They pleaded with me to cooperate by cutting my fee in half, which I did,” she said, “and they tricked me.”

When the film was completed and Gobos again asked for payment, both Cappa and Alco claimed the film was not making money and they couldn’t pay her, “although they knew my fee had nothing to do with sales,” she said.

“Brides,” shot in Athens and Corfu off and on for a couple years, was first showcased to great acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival in 2004 in search of elusive domestic distribution.

No American distributor picked it up, although “Brides” is being sold on DVD worldwide, excepting the U.S. Bristol Media International had international rights, and Odeon sold it in Greece and Cypress.

Gobos’ name appears on the credits.

After years of being stonewalled in futile attempts to secure the contracted fees, Gobos sought legal recourse with local attorney Belongia.

“The fact that everyone has refused to pay me for my services has been very disappointing,” Gobos said. “It has left me with no choice but to take legal action.”

Undaunted by her “Brides” experience, and “having learned the importance of having written agreements and documents in place,” Gobos has optioned screenplays that are in various stages of development.

She continues to represent directors, animators, effects and music for commercials.

Gobos can be reached at 312/664-3686.