Debut of Lennon Film Canceled: Widow Won't Give Piece a Chance

The following article appeared in Portland Press Herald on March 7, 2007. This article was written by Noel K. Gallagher.

Oh Yoko!
That closing song on "Imagine," one of John Lennon's best-ever solo albums, could be serving as a moviemaker's lament today.
Attorneys for Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, put a halt to what would have been the world premiere Tuesday of two hours of previously unseen footage that captured the music legend over three days just weeks before the Beatles broke up in 1970.
Berwick Academy in South Berwick scrambled Tuesday to get the word out that the showing of the film, titled "3 Days in the Life," was being canceled until legal issues between Ono's attorneys and the film's producers are worked out.
The two-hour film is edited down from 10 hours of raw black-and-white footage shot by Ono's firt husband, Anthony Cox, that he in turn sold for an undisclosed amount in 2000 to three fans who incorporated as Boston-based World Wide Video LLC.
The film owners planned to show the film free of charge at high schools and universities around the world. World Wide Video LLC had said it cannot make money off the film because it doesn't have permission from Ono and Lennon's estate.
Among the scenes on the film is Lennon doing a sound check for the "Top of the Pops" show where he performed his No. 1 hit, "Instant Karma." It's a moment where Lennon is breaking out of the Beatles mold even before the band had officially broken up.
Other scenes show Lennon sitting on the edge of his bed with Ono sleeping in the background while he works out the song "Mind Games" on his guitar; being interviewed by Ono's daughter in the back of a limousine and just strolling his estate and joking around on camera.
"We're going to deal with this tomorrow," say Ray Thomas, executive director of the film, when reached by phone Tuesday about the cancellation.
Berwick Academy, where Thomas' stepson attended school, said it received a letter late Monday from attorneys for Ono demanding that the school not exhibit the film.
"Mrs. Lennon owns all the rights, title and copyrights in and to all film, outtakes and videotapes embodying the images of the late John Lennon and herself as filmed by Anthony Cox in 1970," read the letter sent to Berwick Academy Head of School Richard W. Ridgway from Dorothy Weber, an attorney for a New York law firm. "Since you are on notice, your school's public performance of the film would constitute a willfil infringement of our client's copyright," Weber wrote.
School spokeswoman Shanlee Ginchereau said in a prepared statement Tuesday that "until yesterday afternoon, Berwick Academy understood that all rights to the film were held by World Wide Video LLC."
"Given the apparent dispute over ownership rights in the film, Berwick Academy has decided not to show the film as previously scheduled until the parties resolve the underlying ownership dispute," Ginchereau said. "Berwick Academy hopes the parties are able to resolve this matter quickly and looks forward to the opportunity to show this unique piece of music history."

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