Hells Angel Barger sues HBO over biker drama

PHOENIX (Reuters Life!) – Veteran Hells Angel Sonny Barger has sued cable firm HBO alleging it cut him out of a biker drama he helped to develop, Barger’s attorney said on Monday.
Sonny Barger’s TongueBarger lodged the suit against HBO in federal court in Los Angeles last week, saying it sidelined him from the pilot of a drama called “1%”, about a troubled Arizona motorcycle club.

The suit also named the executive producer and writer of the pilot, Michael Tolkin, and his holding company, White Mountain Co, Barger’s attorney Fritz Clapp said.

“Basically, Michael Tolkin stole our show and sold it to HBO,” Clapp said in a telephone interview.

“Everything that he knows about motorcycle clubs he knows from Sonny Barger,” he added.

The term “1 percenter” was coined by the American Motorcycle Association decades ago to describe the 1 percent of motorcycle riders that they deemed troublemakers.

The pilot focused on a chapter of the fictional Death Rangers motorcycle club in Arizona, and centered on a veteran member who is sent from California to bring it under control.

In the complaint, Barger said he and Tolkin pitched HBO on a motorcycle club-centered series, and HBO subsequently turned to Tolkin to create it.

After Barger objected to some of the elements in the pilot, HBO “refused to acknowledge the contributions or authorship” of Barger and did not seek permission to “use or publish the name, trademark, persona or likeness of Sonny Barger for any purpose,” the lawsuit suit said.

Barger, 69, is a founding member of the Hells Angels chapter in Oakland, California, and is the most famous member of the club that turned 60 last month.

He moved to Arizona from California a decade ago. He now raises horses and rides with the club’s Cave Creek, Arizona, chapter.