It’s no secret that while his lawyer Arthur Lieberman was alive, Stan Lee loved pacting. So many pacts, they wouldn’t all fit on a page – animated projects, movie projects, book projects, talking vegetable projects. If someone was willing to pony up some money to team up with Stan and his POW! Entertainment group, Stan’s team was ready and willing to do the teaming.
Unfortunately, so profligate was Stan with his pacting that sometimes he forgot crucial details. His time in Hollywood led to a legendary series of bad deals (Sony owns Spider-Man in perpetuity), lawsuits and general confusion.
And one of those deals led to a lawsuit – although, it should be pointed out in bold faced type, not one that Stan himself was involved with. Stan is usually harmless in all this.
No, he was long gone from the strange “Guardians” hockey project which saw Stan developing new superhero mascots for all 30 NHL teams. The project came to fruition as part of a baffling half time show at the 2011 NHL All-Star game, but then, like so many of Stan’s deals…it washed away on the tides of time.
Enter Aldo LaPietra, one of the principles of SLG Entertainment, the company that spearheaded the Guardians project. It seems LaPietra was able to convince a company called Filmula Entertainment that the designs and the Stan brand were still dynamite and Filmula should invest $5 million in this project which was all set to become a cartoon and merch and more. Filmula thought this was great, and went in to the tune of $500,000. Only to find that SLG and the Guardian Project didn’t really exist any more.
Filmula filed suit in July, accusing producer Aldo LaPietra of concealing the true state of the project when he pitched it in 2012. According to the suit, LaPietra solicited an investment of $5 million, stating that it would include gaming, merchandising, a film, TV, and music. The suit claims that LaPietra said that an animated film based on the characters had been fully financed by producer Ted Field in the amount of $9-10 million, and that NBC Universal was also involved.
In fact, Filmula claims, Field had not contributed any investment in the film and NBC Universal had dropped out entirely. The company created to exploit the characters was insolvent and had shut down at the time that Filmula made its $500,000 investment.
On Friday a court agreed, and LaPietra was ordered to pay back the $500,000 he bilked out of Filmula.
The moral of the story? Well, the moral is really to use Google before you invest half a million dollars in anything. Even if Stan Lee is involved somehow.
Hat Tip to The Outhouse for this story and digging up all 30 Guardians designs. We haven’t the heart to post them here but hit the link to relive the innocent days of 2011.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.