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Widow of Teddy Pendergrass Responds to Tyrese’s $1 Million Lawsuit, Claims Rights to Biopic Belong to Warner Bros.

Singer and actor Tyrese Gibson’s production company, Voltron Entertainment might have filed a lawsuit against Teddy Pendergrass’ widow, but she’s not going down without a fight. After recently filing a response to Gibson’s complaint, Joan Pendergrass requested that the court dismiss all claims by Voltron Entertainment. 

American actor and singer Tyrese Gibson on the red carpet at the world premiere of the film Fast X at the Colosseum. Rome (Italy), May 12nd, 2023 (Photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

RadarOnline reports that Joan Pendergrass argued that the rights for the film belonged to Warner Bros., not Voltron. In the motion, Joan claimed that since Voltron Entertainment gave its rights under the Option Agreement to Warner Bros., the company was “the successor-in-interest to Voltron with respect to the Option Agreement and Voltron no longer a party to the Option Agreement,” court documents revealed. 

From Biopic To Lawsuit 

Teddy Pendergrass died in January 2010 from colon cancer. He was a popular singer with hits throughout the 1970s and early 1980s such as “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Turn Off The Lights,” and “Love TKO.” Although a car crash in 1982 left him paralyzed from the chest down, Pendergrass continued to record and perform until his retirement in 2007.

At the time of his death, the singer had a net worth of $100,000.

Tyrese argues that Voltron Entertainment obtained exclusive rights to Pendergrass’ life story in 2011. With Joan’s approval, it was agreed that Voltron would invest in the project and use Tyrese’s status as a celebrity for promotion. According to Radar, Tyrese and Voltron Entertainment have invested an estimated $450,000 in the project.  

In 2019, Tyrese shared his excitement about being able to portray Pendergrass in the film. Entertainment Weekly reported that the film would be produced by Donald De Line, Lee Daniels, and Tyrese with Joan serving as the biopic’s executive producer. 

However, in 2022, it is alleged that Joan changed her mind about the project, refusing to extend the option to have rights to Pendergrass’ story. Tyrese claims that Joan’s decision caused financial hardship for Voltron Entertainment. And in September 2023, Tyrese sued Joan, seeking $1 million in damages. 

Now Joan is arguing in her response that since Voltron Entertainment assigned the rights to Teddy Pendergrass’ life to Warner Bros. in 2019, Tyrese’s company is no longer part of the deal. 

“Voltron’s claims are barred because Voltron seeks to enforce an unenforceable agreement to agree,” her response reportedly read.

Next Steps In The Legal Battle

The judge in the case set a scheduling conference for Dec. 15 and the magistrate has also established a deadline for both Gibson and Pendergrass to file a joint rule report by December 5. 

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