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MGM settles suit with James Bond producer

CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Danjaq Inc., producer of the 'James Bond 007' films, said Wednesday they have settled their legal disputes over MGM's right to market and license the Bond films.

The settlement could open the way for Danjac to produce and MGM to release another James Bond movie. MGM has been trying to build up its film slate since last spring when it won control of the studio from Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti.

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The last Bond film, 'License to Kill,' was released in 1989. It starred Timothy Dalton as Bond, previously played by Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

The companies said the agreement settles the suit Danjaq filed in February 1991 against MGM and its former parent company, Pathe Communications Corp. Danjaq claimed in the suit that then-MGM owner Parretti had breached contracts with it by selling the rights to the Bond films to help finance his $1.4 billion purchase of the studio in late 1990 from Kirk Kerkorian.

Danjaq originally filed suit against MGM and Pathe in federal court in Los Angeles in October 1990, but that suit was thrown out for being filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

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Danjaq then filed the suit in state court. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed Wednesday.

'Now that this situation is amicably resolved, we look forward to continuing the rewarding, long-term relationship with Danjaq that MGM and United Artists have historically enjoyed through the Bond and other films,' said Alan Ladd Jr., MGM's co-chairman and co-chief executive officer.

'I am delighted this legal obstacle has been removed and I hope to be able to announce exciting new production plans in the near future,' said Albert R. Broccoli, chairman of Danjaq.

Danjaq owns the exclusive rights to produce feature films and television series based on the character James Bond, created by British novelist Ian Fleming. Beginning with 'Dr. No' in 1962, Danjaq has produced 16 Bond films.

Most of the films were released through United Artists, which MGM acquired in the early 1980s. Some of the more successful Bond movies were 'From Russia with Love,' 'Goldfinger,' 'Thunderball,' 'You Only Live Twice,' 'Live and Let Die,' 'Octopussy,' 'The Spy Who Loved Me' and 'Never Say Never Again.'

The companies said the settlement does not affect Danjaq claims against Kerkorian, Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. and former MGM executive Jeffrey Barbakow.

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MGM and its owner Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland N.V. filed lawsuits earlier this week against Kerkorian, alleging the billionaire suckered the bank when he sold off the studio two years ago to Parretti.

The suits seek at least $1.5 billion in damages. The bank, which provided financing for the deal and wound up owning the studio, is seeking no less than $500 million in damages, while MGM is asking for at least $750 million in damages.

Also named as defendants in the suits were Tracinda and Barbakow, along with former executive Stephen Silbert and Houlihan Lokey, Howard & Zukin Inc., the investment bankers who provided the fairness opinion on the deal.

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