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“Paul Blart”: Script Stealer?

"Paul Blart": Script Stealer?

Enjoy the bizarre sight of this while it lasts:

Paul Blart: Mall Cop is the highest grossing film of 2009, with nearly twice as much as #2, Bride Wars. It totally blows my mind that there was this much interest in the film, and that it will end up a $100 million+ grosser. And that 2009 is off to such a fantastic box office beginning (almost every weekend so far have set records for that frame), largely due to Kevin James. Just as odd is that ANOTHER mall cop movie, the likely more substantial Observe And Report (starring Seth Rogen and premiering at SXSW) is out in April.

But more interesting still, and the reason I’m posting this, is an e-mail received by indieWIRE, suggesting that Mall Cop was actually stolen goods itself:


I was on the “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” crew. Some stuff happened on set that now makes more sense and I wanted people to know about it. During production at the Burlington Mall in MA, the film’s title was mysteriously changed to “Untitled Kevin James Project” before being changed back to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” a couple of weeks later. The story going around the set at the time was that a writer from New Hampshire was claiming that Kevin James stole his script which he apparently previously submitted to Happy Madison and that he also registered the title with the Motion Picture Association preventing Columbia-Sony from using it. One guy there who was definitely in a position to know said the studio was so shocked when they read the scripts side-by-side that that they immediately sent a Sony bigwig to NH with an apology and a check to “work it out” in typical Hollywood fashion. I also remember hearing that the writer was a lawyer and was really giving the producers a hard time. Kevin James looked pretty sheepish for a few days too.

When “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” was released last week, it reminded me of the stolen script story so I poked around online to see if I could find anything. Sure enough there’s a script online called “Mall Cop” by Alfred Thomas Catalfo. I just read it and it’s the same script and the same story! Kevin James just changed Catalfo’s mall cop character “Art” to “Blart” and changed a jewelry store to a bank. It’s still about a mall robbery with hostages being rescued by a mall cop who can’t get into the police academy and lives at home with his mother. Both scripts even have robots and scenes set in the Rainforest Cafe! The site says the writer is a lawyer with a mailing address in NH. I found the script online at www.scriptghost.com/samplescript

I don’t have an ax to grind with Kevin James or Happy Madison especially since it was good money and a pretty easy shoot but sometimes this Hollywood b.s. goes too far. I hope the writer made a deal and stuck it to them. Call me jaded.

Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and probably never will, so its quite possible the comparison is not something worthy of investigation. But for those of you that have, check the link and read the script and let me know whether or not James and company really stooped as low as this goes.

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