Belongia law firm represents suit against Angelina Jolie

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A HIGH PROFILE LAWSUIT was filed by local law firm Belongia Shapiro & Franklin  – on behalf of its client, Croatian author Josip J. Knezevic, using his Anglicized name of Joseph J. Braddock, alleging that Angelina Jolie plagiarized his works for a movie she directed and claimed she wrote.

A print and TV journalist who covered the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, Braddock also is the author of “The Soul Shattering,” which his lawsuit describes as “a factual account of the tragedies suffered by Bosnian and Herzegovinian women and children” during the 1992-95 war.

Jolie’s romance drama, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” is set against the background of the Bosnian war.  She claims that the film’s script was totally her work.

Jolie denies ever reading Braddock’s book, telling the LA Times that “It’s par for the course,” and that her film was based on “a combination of many people’s stories.  But that particular book I’ve never seen.”

Braddock had met with producer Edin Sarkic several times about the possibility of making a movie based on the book.  Last year he learned through the media that Sarkic was an executive producer and Jolie the director of a movie being filmed in Bosnia that had “obvious” similarities with his book, the suit alleges.

Mark Belongia is the law firm’s lead attorney on the case.

GET OUT YOUR CRYSTAL BALL and participate in the Reel’s 2012 opinion poll.  Based on recent business activity at your place of business, we want to know how you perceive local production business conditions in the first half of 2012. 

Using the BackTalk comments section below, tell us what you see ahead. What are the indicators you see for the level of business — improved, the same or less?  What are some of the specific trends you’ve spotted?  What areas, or pieces of production, will increase, change or fade away?  What new business models are emerging?   

Your opinions may surprise, confirm or depress us. 

THREE RED CAMERAS, new Scarlet, Epic and Red One, will be reviewed and demonstrated at Daufenbach Camera’s monthly Dauf Time discussions Thursday, Jan. 29 at Daufenbach Camera, 320 N. Dame, 5-7 p.m.   

CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH WELLS of I-Cubed has brought top local actors together for a table read of five screenplays at the Chicago Screenwriters Network’s Jan. 8 meeting at its new, centrally-located venue. 

After 11 years of Sunday evening meetings at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4006 N. Lincoln, the group will start meeting at Porkchop, 941 W. Randolph at its usual time of 5:30 p.m.

The new, invigorated board, led by adman-produced screenwriter Colin Costello, is making a concerted effort to provide some of the L.A. script services that we either 1) never had here, like Pitchfest, or 2) haven’t had access to in Chicago for a long time, like meetings with prominent L.A. writers and producers. 

To help pay for programs, the CSN has instituted annual membership fee of $50, minus various discounts, which will make CSN one of the best organization bargains around.  Click here for details.

FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES of longtime gaffer Jimmy Miller will be sad to learn that he is in a hospice with cancer.

THERE’S A LOT GOING ON at the Gene Siskel Film Center during January. For one, it will spotlight “Stranger than Fiction: Documentary Premieres,” Jan. 6-Feb. 2 and feature eight one-week runs of studio and indie features.

One of these features is “Newlyweds,” directed by and starring favorite indie director/actor Edward Burns (“The Brothers McMullen”), screening Jan. 13-19. He will appear in person at screenings Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. and Jan. 14 at 8 p.m.

BTW, The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute cites 2012 as its 40th anniversary, which seems a bit askew to me as I remember attending the Center’s opening in 2000.  As you know, the Center was named for the late Tribune film critic and co-star of ABC’s long running “Siskel & Ebert” movie review show.

The explanation for the 40th anniversary date comes from the Center’s very professional PR director, Karen Durham.

She writes: “We held screenings for many years in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago Auditorium at Columbus and Jackson when we were known as the Film Center. We started out with films running in Fullerton Hall at The Art Institute prior to that.”

The Gene Siskel Film Center presents approximately 1,500 screenings and 100 guest artist appearances a year.  It has two movie theatres and a gallery/café.

PUBLICIS GROUPE’S LEO BURNETT may be the preeminent local presence of the Paris-based global advertising behemoth, but there’s much more to Publicis in Chicago, which adds immensely to our international cachet.  This other part, which we suspect few know about, has such a huge local operation that it’s doubling space to 66,000-sq. ft. at 111 W. Wacker. 

The expanded space houses Publicis’ Performics, an online search marketing firm, whose global headquarters are based in Chicago and ZenithOptimedia, a search and performance marketing agency, headquartered in London, of which Performics is a unit.

Performics is under the direction of Chicago-based Daina Middleton, who was recently promoted from U.S. CEO to worldwide CEO.   Performics recently integrated performance marketing teams in 10 countries, including China, Germany, Italy, Russia and Spain, under its brand.

The Tribune ranked Performics one of Chicago’s 2011 Top Workplaces, along with fellow Publicis-owned Digitas and Starcom MediaVest Group.

Make it a New Year’s resolution to share your news on a regular basis with ReelChicago’s ever-increasing local and national readership. Email to ruth@reelchicago.com.

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