Cussler had final say over the director and lead actors (he boasted of turning down Tom Cruise for being too short) as well as wide discretion over the script (he disparaged writers as "hacks.")Writer and blogger John August has some further analysis on the case.
By ceding so much authority to a novelist, Anschutz broke a fundamental rule in the film business: Keep the author out of the screenwriting process. Now Anschutz finds himself cast in a movie mogul's nightmare.
He has lost about $105 million to date on "Sahara," was forced to abandon plans for several Dirk Pitt sequels and is fighting one of Hollywood's most contentious lawsuits since humorist Art Buchwald battled Paramount Pictures over breach-of-contract charges. A jury trial is scheduled next month in Los Angeles.
Steve Zahn (left) Penelope Cruz and Matthew McConaughey in Sahara, directed by Breck Eisner, screenplay written by Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer and John C. Richards and James V. Hart from the novel by Clive Cussler . (Photo: Keith Hamshere / Paramount)