Skip to comments.NJ Diving Dentist Says 'Nemo' film was his idea
Posted on 02/17/2005 4:12:51 AM PST by beaversmom
NEWARK, N.J. -- A scuba-diving dentist says Disney and Pixar Animation Studios stole the idea for the hit film "Finding Nemo" from him.
In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Newark, Dennis G. Sternberg, 56, of Allenhurst, said he used experiences as a diver to create an underwater adventure story for children in 1991. He called his story "Peanut Butter the Jelly Fish."
He claims he submitted an illustrated manuscript to Disney and talked on the phone about his story with a writer from Pixar. (The two companies have a distribution partnership.)
A Disney vice president told Sternberg in 1996 that although the story had "great potential," it did not fit into the studio's "development slate" at that time, according to the suit.
Seven years later, Sternberg was in a movie theater and saw a preview for the upcoming release of "Finding Nemo."
"I thought, 'Hey, I'm the scuba-diving dentist. Those are my characters, that's my story,"' he told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Wednesday's editions. "It made me sick to my stomach."
One big similarity: Sternberg story has a character named "Nimo."
The suit claims a violation of federal copyright laws, in addition to fraud and misrepresentation, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. It claims the companies "have intentionally, knowingly, illicitly and slavishly copied plaintiff's protected works in whole or in substantial part."
Before Sternberg submitted his manuscript, Disney had him sign a two-page waiver that said he would be entitled to only $500 if he were to claim that the company used his material without permission or authorization. The lawsuit asks the court to void that waiver.
Neither Disney nor Pixar would comment when reached by the newspaper Tuesday.
(Excerpt) Read more at newsday.com ...
A little less than the cost of a root canal.
You signed WHAT???
He better not quit his dentist day job......
Dang dentists. Always trying to rip people off.
And if "Nemo" had been a big flop, I'm sure this guy would have pressed the suit anyway, right?
I have an idea about this guy, see, and there's a mystery, and a thing that everybody wants, and there's a car chase, and explosions...
I'm gonna be RICH!!!
The 'Disney' brand used to mean something. It's a shame to see what it has turned into. I really miss Walt.
"Before Sternberg submitted his manuscript, Disney had him sign a two-page waiver that said he would be entitled to only $500 if he were to claim that the company used his material without permission or authorization. The lawsuit asks the court to void that waiver."
Sorry, dude, but I've got no sympathy for you if you signed such an agreement.
And he just now noticed that Nemo had coppied his story.
His family needs to send him to detox while there is still hope.
If he had to sign that before Disney even looked at his material, then that should have been a huge tip-off that they were going to take advantage of him.
Disney has more sleazy lawyers than this guy can afford. Too bad. He'll lose.
Spielberg lost a a suit over ET because it was stolen from a one-act play where the alien charecter said "Phone home". This guy is probabl right and the doc he signed is probably unenforcable.
Disney Rep: Please sign this Mr. Sternberg.
Mr Sternberg: What's this?
Disney Rep: Oh nothing really. Just a release form we'll whip out in the event we decide to break the laws we expect everyone else to obey but see no reason to obey ourselves.
That's my kids' favorite! Can I have your autograph?
just keep drilling ... just keep drillig
If I had been presented with that document to sign, my first thought would have been, "So they intend to rip off my idea and try to avoid paying me for it." I'd have either walked out the door for good, or come back with better representation. As a patient, am I going to sign a waiver that he gives me stating that if he accidentally rips out all of my teeth while filling a cavity, I can't sue for damages?
I believe NEMO was stolen from the French first.
he's not getting ENOUGH money from my mouth, he has to go and SUE DISNEY, yet???
Do you remember Kimba The White Lion?
Disney swiped practically the entire story from that old cartoon, and IIRC won in court because their animators claimed they had never heard of it.
That's right...the world's most famous animators claimed they had never heard of Japan's most famous animator.
I don't know if this dentist is telling the truth, but I DO know that Disney has swiped material in the past.
Someone posted that on the thread in post #24.
I didn't see it but my wife was telling me Roy Disney was on the O'Rielly Factor complaining about the same thing. He said Michael Eisner has lost the quality that Disney has always stood for especially in their parks.
My wife and I have noticed this over the years. It use to be you could go into any Disney park and it was prestine. Disney always had a policy that maintenance on their parks would be done after hours and any refurbish work would be transparent to "guests".
Not any longer. We've experience rides breaking down, "wet paint" signs dotting the landscape, and workmen roaming around. Several years ago we walked into Epcot and I think all but one attraction was opened. The rests were either closed or broken. Fortunately we had a hopper ticket and left the park after 1/2 hour and headed over to another.
I don't want to sound like I'm slamming Disney because they still operate some of the best parks IMHO. But that won't be for very much longer. Roy is right. They need to put their focus back on the quality of the job.
Ha! Right! I know a screenwriter, a tough ex-cop, who told me of Disney, "They f**k you just for the practice."
If he's got a dated manuscript with a character named "Nimo" and other evidence, Disney is scarooood! Wouldn't break my heart to see them get nailed, but that was a very good animated film.
I once signed a similar type of waiver before submitting a script on spec to the old Newhart show (where he owned the lodge in Vermont).
The Story Editor had promised to either get back to me with why my script (my first) wouldn't work or pass it on to the decision makers if it was good enough.
Never heard from him again, but the following season there was an episode that was substantially different from mine but with enough similarites to make me really suspicious - and angry.
Such is the risk you take when dealing with faraway strangers. I've remembered that Story Editor's name ever since and always change channels when I see it on a show.
Immature, definitely, but it makes me feel better (and isn't that what it's all about? </sarcasm>).
Moron alert.....don't sign a statement like that unless you enjoy being ripped off.
He has no case.
I agree with your statement.
Thanks for the link.
I remember when The Lion King opened. I hadn't even seen it yet; I'd just heard the storyline, and I couldn't help but say, "My (goodness), it's Kimba!"
Everyone else said I was nuts, but you know and I know that I wasn't. I still to this day cannot believe Disney got away with that one.