Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Cussler V. Anschutz: Raze the Titanic

Order in the court! It took less than a month to try and convict Joe Nacchio in U.S. District Court. But meanwhile, another case involving his former boss, Phil Anschutz, drags on...and a Los Angeles courtroom, where opening arguments were made weeks before the freshly toupeed Nacchio stepped into Judge Nottingham's courtroom, and closing arguments are finally under way.

Former Coloradan Clive Cussler had sued current Coloradan Anschutz back in 2004, trying to stop the film that Anshutz's movie company was making of Sahara, claiming that the multi-million-dollar deal they'd made four years before gave him "sole and absolute" approval on the script. And Anschutz had countersued, arguing that Cussler's complaints were unreasonable and that he'd inflated the sales figures on his books.

Once the case finally went to trial, endless testimony spilled out that was even more tedious than the Matthew McConaughey movie made from Sahara.

Cussler talked about how after his first -- and best -- book, Raise the Titanic, was made into a lousy movie, he'd vowed never sell the rights to one of his Dirk Pitt books again. And for twenty years, he held to that vow -- only breaking it in 2000, when Anschutz agreed to pay $10 million each for the rights to two books.

Although Anschutz testified for the defense at Nacchio's trial, he didn't testify on his own behalf in this case. In fact, he never made an appearance in the L.A. courtroom. But then, Cussler's books themselves speak volumes.

They're really, really bad. The real question here is why Anshutz ever even wanted them. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun