Friday, Oct. 31, 1997 | 3:18 a.m.
Claiming the concept for the movie "Liar, Liar" was stolen from a script he co-wrote, Nevada Republican governor candidate Aaron Russo has filed a $55 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the film's producer.
"I'm not a very litigious person, but on this one I felt raped," said Russo, who produced several movies, including Bette Midler's "The Rose," before moving to Nevada in September 1996 to run for governor in next year's election.
Russo's suit, filed Wednesday, names producer Brian Grazer and two film companies involved in the production, Imagine Entertainment and Universal Studios Inc.
Michael Rosenberg, president of Imagine Entertainment, said Russo's lawsuit is frivolous.
"The whole issue is a lie from Aaron Russo's position," Rosenberg said. "No one has ever sued anybody when a movie has failed, but a lot of people show up and sue when it's successful."
Russo said he ran into Grazer four years ago at the Mark Hotel in New York and mentioned that he wanted Grazer to look at a script he had helped write.
The script, entitled "The Man Who Told the Truth (The Lie Story)," is about a lawyer "who has to tell the truth," Russo said.
Russo said Grazer phoned about six months later to say the concept lacked commercial value and that he was not interested in pursing it.
"Liar, Liar" was released in April 1996, featuring actor Jim Carrey in the role of a lawyer who, because of his son's wish, must be honest for 24 hours, even in uncomfortable settings.
"It was a direct rip," Russo said. "You have the biggest comedy in the history of the world. I think I deserve the profit of the film."
Rosenberg said the lawsuit prevents him from discussing how the concept for the movie came about.
Grazer has produced a string of hits with Ron Howard, the former child actor who starred in "The Andy Griffith Show." Howard was not named in the suit.
Grazer is co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment.