Robert Baer lost his lawsuit against David Chase, the Sopranos‘ series creator, last week, but the trail revealed how Hollywood writers turn their ideas into successful television and the way the industry often revolves around friends doing favors for friends. Mr. Baer was seeking compensation for giving Mr. Chase a tour of Mafia sights around New Jersey and for arranging meetings with mob experts that Baer claimed inspired many of the ideas for the HBO hit show.
“It’s about talent, but also about relationships and reliability and loyalty,” said Lauren Gussis, who worked as a story editor and staff writer for the Showtime hit “Dexter” before the writers’ strike.
“When I was starting out, if David Chase had spent five minutes with me, let alone read my material, I would have probably sent him a gift basket,” she said. “I certainly wouldn’t have sued him.”
While the jury found that Baer did help Chase, it ruled that he was not owed anything for assistance he provided while Chase wrote the early draft of the “Sopranos” pilot because he did not prove he had a reasonable expectation of being compensated. The jury also found Baer may have been hoping that Chase would help open doors in the entertainment business.