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Garth Brooks: Country Star, Failed Filmmaker, Defendant

May 14, 2013

Garth BrooksName the bestselling solo male musician of all time. Elvis Presley? Bing Crosby? Elton John? Nope. It’s country superstar Garth Brooks, who has sold more than 128 million albums in the U.S., which is especially remarkable because unlike those other guys, he didn’t have a recording career that lasted decades. His first record came out in 1989 and his last one in 2001. Why’d he retire? He wanted to try new things, particularly starring in and making movies.

Brooks is one of the most popular musicians of all time, and if a new lawsuit filed by a former business partner is to be believed, one of the prickliest. Former business partner Lisa Sanderson is taking Brooks to court because his bad behavior and pattern of bridge-burning resulted in a number of movie projects that never saw the light of day, and thus prevented Sanderson from earning a great deal of money.

Here are some of the movies Sanderson alleges she and Brooks worked on that never made it to the big screen:

Saving Private Ryan. Sanderson and Brooks formed a production company called Red Strokes, which landed a development deal with Disney. That led to Brooks being offered a role in Steven Spielberg’s World War II ensemble film, Saving Private Ryan. Brooks declined because, Sanderson alleges, he didn’t want to share the screen with people he considered lesser stars…such as Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.

Twister. Spielberg also sent Brooks a script for Twister, which he was producing. Brooks turned that down, too, because he didn’t want to be upstaged by the computer-generated tornadoes.

• The Lamb. Sanderson’s lawsuit describes a bizarre meeting she and Brooks had with Fox executives. Brooks successfully pitched a movie called The Lamb, about a rock star who fakes his own death, which would star Brooks as his “Chris Gaines” pop star alter ego. Brooks also wanted to provide songs, which he said were very personal because he wrote them to deal with the death of his father. After the meeting, Sanderson confronted Brooks…because she knew that his father was alive and well. Brooks said he lied to make the pitch seem more emotional. Ultimately, the movie never happened because Brooks refused to split with Fox any music publishing revenues the movie would generate.

Alice in Wonderland. Brooks was offered the chance to record a song for Tim Burton’s 2010 live-action version of Alice in Wonderland. Brooks refused to do the song, because, bizarrely, he also wanted to co-write the screenplay.

Because of these incidents, and more, Sanderson claims she and her production company lost out on a small fortune—she’s suing for $425,000 to cover breach of contract and fraud. Stay tuned!

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