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The Fate of the "Easy Rider" Sequel Hangs in Dallas County Court

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In the summer of 2004 crews began filming Easy Rider: The Search Continues, a sequel the cult 1969 film that tracked Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as they made their long, drug-soaked motorcycle ride from L.A. to New Orleans. Never mind that Fonda and Hopper's characters died at the end of the original or that neither would be in the new incarnation. An attorney and first-time film producer from Ohio named Phillip Pitzer had purchased the rights and written a script.

The project hit a wall when Pitzer sought to obtain outtakes from the original film in which Fonda and Hopper bought drugs from a Mexican dealer. According to a New York Times story from 2006, the producers of the original Easy Rider refused, saying Pitzer didn't own the rights.

That seemed like it would be the project's death knell, that Easy Rider: The Search Continues would share the fate of 2002's Easy Rider A.D., in which it turned out that Fonda's character didn't die but was just in prison, and the never-realized film imagined by Fonda and Hopper in the 1980s in which their characters would be restored to life in the distant future and ride through post-apocalyptic America.

But Pitzer persevered and, by May 2009, was apparently in Cannes promoting the film, now subtitled The Ride Back, which he promised to release later that year.

That doesn't seem to have actually happened, though a stub from IMDB has the movie coming out in 2013. As for the plot summary:

In this revisionist drama, the film delves into the family lineage of Wyatt Williams, the character made famous by Peter Fonda in the original Easy Rider movie. Centering around the Williams family, and their internal family struggles throughout the eras of the '40s to present day, as they struggle to connect with one another through the only way they know how. Their love of motorcycles and the freedom of the ride.

Now, Pitzer faces another hurdle, this one in Dallas County District Court. On Monday, one of his partners in the production, a Dallas company controlled by Stephen Malouf called Easy Rider Holdings Inc., filed a lawsuit against Pitzer; actress Sheree Wilson; another business partner, James Hunting; and Malibu Movie Company LLC.

According to the lawsuit, ERH, Hunting and Pitzer each control a third of Malibu which, in the process of securing the rights to the Easy Rider sequel, racked up nearly $300,000 in legal debt. Malibu negotiated the debt down to $100,000, at which point Hunting and Pitzer loaned Malibu a combined $25,000. The suit says they expected ERH to do the same, but the company refused, citing a clause in Malibu's operating agreement stipulating they wouldn't have to make additional capital contributions. Hunting and Pitzer also claimed, according to the suit, that Wilson, an actress in the original Easy Rider, had a 3 percent stake in Malibu.

ERH is asking the court to define the legal roles of Hunting, Pitzer and ERH as it relates to Malibu and to declare that ERH did not breach its fiduciary obligations. Also, it wants a declaratory judgment that Wilson has no part of Malibu. Peter Malouf, who is representing ERH, said he would need to talk to his client before he makes any comment on the case.

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