News Article

Sorry, 'Charlie'

Robert Wagner sues Sony over ''Charlie's Angels.'' Number Two says a 1970s TV movie deal with Aaron Spelling gave him a part interest in the franchise

No one ever sees any more of reclusive detective agency owner Charles Townsend than his speakerphone, but maybe the real unseen owner behind ''Charlie's Angels'' is Robert Wagner. The former ''Hart to Hart'' star filed a lawsuit against Sony Pictures on Tuesday that contends he is a part owner of the ''Angels'' franchise, thanks to a deal dating back 29 years, and that claims he's entitled to half the profits from Sony's two ''Charlie's Angels'' movies.

It's a complicated financial web worthy of Number Two, the Dr. Evil henchman Wagner plays in the ''Austin Powers'' movies. According to Reuters, the suit says that, back in 1974, Wagner and then-wife Natalie Wood signed a deal to star in the TV movie ''The Affair'' for producers Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, a deal that also gave the Wagners a part interest in five shows that Spelling and Goldberg pitched to ABC. The suit says that one of those pitches became ''Charlie's Angels,'' the 1976-81 series that spawned the 2000 movie and its current sequel, ''Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.''

Now, Wagner says, he's owed profits from the TV series and the movies, and he wants the court to make Sony turn over all financial records related to the making of the films. Sony hasn't commented on the suit. Of course, even if he wins in court, Wagner may never see a dime from ''Full Throttle.'' The sequel, which reportedly cost $120 million to make and another $40 million to market, has taken in just $71 million since it opened June 27, and it'll be lucky to break even at the U.S. box office.

Originally posted Jul 10, 2003