The AP is reporting that former Wilco multi-instrumentalist Jay Bennett is suing Jeff Tweedy for breach of contract surrounding payment for Bennett’s appearance in the 2002 documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.
[via Rockpalast Archive]
Bennett, who was in Wilco from 1994-2001 and contributed to Being There, Summerteeth, both Mermaid Avenue albums and of course, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, claims in the lawsuit that he was compensated only in “infrequent partial payments” equal to 15 percent of Wilco’s income from sales and performances.
Now, I am certainly no copyright attorney. And I’m equally no expert on how actors and musicians are paid for their work in movies. So I’m not going to pontificate on what Bennett is legally entitled to. But aren’t there clear laws about this? Could the movie have even come out if Bennett hadn’t signed some agreements to determine compensation? What about Leroy Bach, who was also in the band during the filming of the movie but has subsequently been replaced – has he been paid more/less than Bennett for the movie?
READ ON for more of Luke’s thoughts on Bennett’s lawsuit…
The film is over six years old at this point. It seems as though Bennett, who hasn’t been shy about publicly complaining he has been cut out of his slice of the Wilco pie, was waiting for the band’s star to rise to its zenith (and its most financially lucrative point) before going after them officially and legally. If this was really about royalties and giving credit where it’s due, wouldn’t he have brought this lawsuit on long ago?
It also strikes me as weird that Tweedy is the one being sued instead of Nonesuch Records or the Production Company or some sort of LLC. In the credits for I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Tweedy is not among the 12 producers or executive producers listed. However Sam Jones, who both produced and directed the film, which pretty much portrays Bennett as a pain in the ass, is not named in the lawsuit. That screams “personal vendetta” to me.
Tweedy and Bennett perform Cars Can’t Escape
Whatever the case, I’m sure the lawyers will reach some agreement and a check will exchange hands. And I guess it should come as no surprise that two guys who argued about everything, most glaringly the four second introduction to Heavy Metal Drummer as so brilliantly captured in the movie, would eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the scales of justice for one last fight.