Sophia Stewart: Matrix, Terminator Author Battles On
By Celeste Bateman
In what continues to loom as one of the biggest criminal copyright infringement cases in the history of Hollywood, a lone African American woman is fighting the battle of her life against those who would ultimately take credit for blockbuster movie franchises, Terminator and Matrix. Sophia Stewart, a divorced mother of two, Tasha and Paris. and displaced New Yorker now residing in Las Vegas, is in an epochal legal battle with the famed Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry) from Chicago, two carpenters/Marvel comic book writers who dropped out of college to pursue careers as Hollywood filmmakers. According to Ms. Stewart, an articulate if enigmatic writer turned litigant — the Wachowski brothers stole her script for a science fiction screenplay and turned it into the mega hit that we know today as the Matrix (1999) which racked up billions worldwide.
Here’s how the story goes. Ms. Stewart, with her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from City University of New York in tow, moved to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career and to attend film school at the University of Southern California. Through her association with R&B singer Janet Jackson (go figure), she obtained entree into the entertainment business, initially working on small television projects and eventually landing at Columbia Pictures in the office of then vice president, Dick Berres.
Soon after arriving in L.A., Ms. Stewart wrote a science fiction novel called The Third Eye. The book, she says, is a science fiction version of the ‘second coming’ which she was inspired to write after seeing Star Wars. “What I wrote was the evolution of consciousness, the second coming of Christ — man vs. the machine.” (An e-book version is available through her website Truthaboutmatrix.com for $24.99)
In 1986 Ms. Stewart answered a magazine advertisement for a science fiction script that the Wachowski brothers were going to make into a comic book. Years later, Ms. Stewart contends, her vision hit the movie screens on March 31, 1999 in the form of Matrix. In fact the Wachowski brothers used a verbatim quote from her book to introduce the film which was later removed after an FBI investigation into the criminal copyright infringement was initiated.
When I first spoke with Sophia Stewart a few months ago in April 2012, she was most gracious with her time and forthcoming with the complex details of her lawsuits. The legal documents involved could make your head spin. She shared some of them with me.
When Stewart saw the Matrix, she recognized her work right away and called the legal department at Warner Brothers on April 1, 1999. According to her, they knew exactly who she was and therefore, one would assume, they knew that her work had plagiarized. “They offered me money right off the bat,” she says. She had also kept a copy of the original Wachowski ad which ultimately became one of many aces in the hole. “The ad is what brings it all together,” she says. “The ad is what says I told the truth.”
There is a ton of information on the web about this case. There are several interesting radio interviews on Youtube where you can learn about Ms. Stewart’s early life as a prodigy, her leap into college at a young age and her travails in Hollywood. She was writing in the 1980s about technologies that had not even been invented. She’s already written Matrix 4 with “hologram clones, virtual reality, etc.” according to her, but she’s keeping it close to the vest, not surprising. She says that she writes in the universal language of mathematics. (Radio Interview on Youtube: “Sophia Stewart [Mother of the Matrix] on Veritas Radio | The Third Eye: Where It All Begins”)
Stewart contends that there are a lot of people whose work has similarly been stolen, but because the media is corrupt, you don’t hear about it. In her case, no one is talking. The Wachowski brothers were famous for their reclusion especially after the release of Matrix and the subsequent controversy. My contention is that because they knew the work was stolen, they didn’t want to address it in the media. In fact, they made a deal with Warner that they would not have to do interviews. (In a bizarre twist, one of the Wachowski brothers (Larry) had a sex change and is now a woman named Lana, so the Wachowski brothers are no more.)
I spoke with Ms. Stewart again in late July. One may read reports on the internet that Ms. Stewart won a multi-billion dollar lawsuit when, in fact, she received some funds but not the damages. “The Wachoskis Brothers lost on a default judgment in 2004,” she says. “They never answered the complaint ever.” On June 4, 2012, she won a judgment against her now deceased attorney, Jonathan Lubell (alias Jon Lubell) for failure to appear at a pre-trial conference in December 2011, and failure to appear to show cause in January 2012 causing her to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue and, more important, causing the dismissal of her $300 million 2003 California lawsuit. Her judgment is for $150 million.
You will be hard-pressed to find information about Ms. Stewart’s wins in the mainstream media. I know for a fact that people had written her off as a crazy lady. How dare she take on such giant corporations as Twentieth Century Fox and influential individuals like the Wachowski brothers and other mega figures in the industry? The fact is, the woman is brilliant and brave. Her story deserves to be heard — that you can wage a battle against the so-called powers that be and win. The reader might say, “…well, she didn’t for damages…” (yet). Truthfully, I don’t think – having spent hours on the telephone with Ms. Stewart – that money is her motivation. The point is that people (or corporations) can not STEAL your copyrighted material, do with it as they might, make billions of dollars and think they can get away with it.
(Aside): Ms. Stewart wrote herself into her story as the Oracle, played in Matrix by the late Gloria Foster
Notes on Terminator
Canadian born James Cameron (Titantic, Avatar) is credited with directing and co-writing Terminator (his partner in crime Gale Anne Hurd, producer), but another science fiction writer, Harlan J. Ellison sued him and won a paltry $65K because Cameron admitted in interviews that he had “ripped off” story lines from two Outer Limits segments Ellison had written. Ms. Stewart claims (and the FBI concurs) that Terminator is also based on her seminal work (The Third Eye) and that it is, in fact, the prequel to Matrix. Initially, she was not aware of this infringement, not having seen Terminator. It was the FBI that informed her that Terminator was indeed part of the copyright infringement case and pursued a civil liberties case on her behalf. (Sarrah Connor who the Terminator relentlessly pursues in the film is Neo’s mother (Matrix). The case was ruled in her favor.
The teleplay and the final film reveals that Gale Anne Hurd and James Cameron were not really authors, rather, they were copying the protected work product of other people and then gave false oaths to the United States Copyright Office in violation of 17 U.S.C. 506 (e) to set void agreements that were based upon these illegal acts.
…The Debtors’ have committed Felony Copyright infringement and do not own legitimate interest in the Terminator movie franchise. - Source: Universal Commercial Code (UCC), California, 2009
The “Debtors” refers to director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, et al.
(Aside) The famous line ” I will be back ” in Terminator uttered by Arnold Schwarzenegger that reverberated around the world, was created by Ms. Stewart.
I have selected the following paragraphs from the Civil Rights court case filed on Ms. Stewart’s behalf to provide a synopsis of the proceeding:
41. Hence, Plaintiff Stewart maintains that all deals made without a recognition of her rights was done to willfully suppress her rights and to show that some industry leaders concealed the malfeasance by illegal means in violation of 18 U.S.C. 4 so that the perpetrators could benefit from their illegal malfeasance and to make certain that Plaintiff Stewart did not collect her just compensation as an African American who in 1981 did not have membership in the Writers Guild of America. That is not a reason to set up a scheme to take her work by illegal means in that the laws of the United States are the supreme law regarding the right to own and use copyrighted works, not a private agreement between writers and various studios.
76. Nevertheless, Defendants Gale Anne Hurd, James Cameron, Pacific Western Productions, Inc., and Hemdale Film Corporation did not reveal their knowledge of the co-authorship of Sophia Stewart to the United States Copyright Office when the “Terminator” screenplay was submitted under number PAu 584-564 on February 3, 1984 as it was their duty to do under 17 U.S.C. 506 (e).
82. On information and belief, the sole story concept that Gale Anne Hurd had between May 1, 1981 and May 10, 1981 involving a post nuclear war fight between man and machines from another planet in a darkened earth that used naked people without shame through a large mechanized spacecraft to engage the machines was written by Sophia Stewart on May 1, 1981 which was then submitted to Twentieth Century Fox to the Vice President of Creative Affairs for consideration.
175. In spite of the fact that no “Terminator” movie has lost money at the Box Office, the companies that have acquired the rights and the companies that have profited from the use of this intellectual property repeatedly go to the Bankruptcy Court to transfer the rights from Hemdale Film Corporation in 1995 through Halcyon Holding Company LLC, the parent company to T Asset Acquisitions LLC, filing for Chapter 11 reorganization on August 17, 2009 and then illegally transferring those rights that were never lawfully acquired in light of at least two violations of 17 U.S.C. 506 (e) and multiple violations of 18 U.S.C. 152 (2) regarding the proper ownership of the so called “Terminator” merchandising, production, game, and other rights that arose from the “Third Eye” written by Sophia Stewart that was pilfered by Gale Anne Hurd and Pacific Western Productions, Inc. and then falsely represented to every buyer through subjects that were not bona fide purchasers since they could not buy all of what Hurd, Cameron, and Pacific Western Productions, Inc. did not own, which void outcome based upon violations of 18 U.S.C. 152 (2) also apply to the representations of ownership by Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson through Halcyon Holding Group LLC to Pacificor LLC for $29.5 million on February 8, 2010 in the fictitious auction.
182. Every entity that got close to the “Third Eye” had amazing outcomes:
a) Roger Corman – $16.5 Million;
b) Gale Anne Hurd – in excess of $8 million;
c) Pacific Western Productions – (unknown);
d) Hemdale Film Corporation – - $72 million;
e) Carolco Pictures, Inc. — $400 million;
f) C2 Partners (Intermedia) – $233 million;
g) Halcyon Holding Group LLC – $172 million;
h) James Cameron – unknown; and
i) Roger Corman – $16.5 million.
Celeste Bateman acknowledges the generous contribution of time and valuable information Sophia Stewart contributed to this article.