Canadian filmmaker can no longer bite his ‘Tung’

Concept behind Danish sitcom ‘Tung Metal’ was stolen, ex-resident says

A former resident of Copenhagen – the Canadian film producer and writer Tyler Levine – is in the process of launching legal action against Grif Film, the makers of ‘Tung Metal’, a Danish sitcom currently airing on TV2 Zulu that he claims is based on a series he finished writing earlier this year.

“My lawyer is sending the production company a letter in the coming days ordering them to cease and desist,” Levine exclusively told The Copenhagen Post.

Levine wrote his series, provisionally entitled ‘One Hit Wonder’, over an 18-month period from June 2008 to December 2009. A colleague of Levine’s translated the series into Danish, and comedian Thomas Hartmann agreed to work with Levine to make sure the series felt completely Danish. But, in late 2009, Hartmann stopped answering Levine’s calls.

Levine claimed that Hartmann is a very close friend and writing partner of Grif Film’s Wadt Thomsen, the co-writer of ‘Tung Metal’.

However, Levine stressed that Hartmann was not involved in writing Thomsen’s sitcom. “I’ve been told he was definitely not a part of this,” he said.

The Copenhagen Post contacted Thomsen on Wednesday about Levine’s claims and he rejected them, saying “it’s strange to us”.

Thomsen explained that the idea for the series originated at a meeting with TV2 Zulu in the spring of 2010 at which the broadcaster asked Grif Film to create a project for the long-haired stand-up comedian Geo, who plays the central character.

“Given Geo’s appearance, heavy metal was an obvious direction to go in,” he said. “The first we heard about these claims was when we received a call from Thomas Hartman asking us what the sitcom was about. He didn’t even know what it was about.”

Thomsen rejected Levine’s claims that Hartmann is a writing partner, but conceded that they know each other well, and that there have been shared interest projects and meetings.

“Besides, Thomas and Geo don’t really like each other’s humour,” he added.

In Levine’s version, the central character is a glamour metal musician who was big in the 1980s. In ‘Tung Metal’ the central character is a heavy metal musician who was big in the 1990s. In both versions the comedy revolves around the musician’s attempts to reform his band, revive his career, and win back the love of a former girlfriend.

Levine is confident he has a strong case to show the concept was stolen. “The concept is exactly the same, the characters are the same and the writer is best friends (and a writing partner on a different project) with my writing partner on the project. That’s some coincidence!” he said.

“My lawyer tells me we have a good paper trail to show the concept is mine as are the characters, which is plenty. The fact many of the story-lines appear similar is a bonus – the disastrous media interview in episode one for example.”

Levine initially hired a Canadian lawyer, but has now retained a “top Danish law firm”.

“It’s been an interesting process being ripped off,’ concluded Levine. “Of course, it’s been denied by the parties involved, who have said it’s all just a big coincidence. But, for me to have spent more than a year writing this and then to hear it’s now a popular show is just mud in my eye.’

So far the acclaim for the series, which according to Thomsen was simultaneously written and filmed, has been universal. However, audience figures have declined, from 124,000 for the opening episode in week 41 –  the channel’s highest rating of the week – to less than half that three weeks later.

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