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Scandal before Oscar. Author of Oscar-nominated film accused of plagiarism

Scandal before Oscar. Author of Oscar-nominated film accused of plagiarism The author of The Holdovers was accused of plagiarism (screenshot from The Holdovers movie)

Simon Stephenson, the author of the scripts for the animated films Luca and Paddington 2, has filed plagiarism charges against the creators of The Holdovers, which received five Oscar nominations.

What is known about the scandal

According to Stephenson's statement, the writers of The Holdovers almost completely copied his script, which is called Frisco and was written by him back in 2013.

At one time, this script was rejected, but later it was recognized as the third best unrealized script in Hollywood.

Frisco tells the story of a tired middle-aged pediatrician and his 15-year-old patient who needs to be cared for, and The Holdovers is about an elderly teacher at a private school for boys and his 15-year-old student who was unable to go home for the holidays.

"The evidence The Holdovers screenplay has been plagiarised line-by-line from Frisco is genuinely overwhelming – anybody who looks at even the briefest sample pretty much invariably uses the word ‘brazen,’" Simon says.

It should be noted that The Holdovers received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Another notable detail is that the main character of the film, as a student, was himself a victim of academic plagiarism at the university.

Stephenson has already filed a complaint with the Writers Guild of America (WGA). However, he was advised to go to court, as the Guild's rules provide for virtually no sanctions for plagiarism.

The creators of The Holdovers, David Hemingson and Alexander Payne, have so far refrained from commenting on the issue. However, it is known that Payne probably read the text of Frisco at least twice: in 2013 and 2019, as confirmed by emails involving several Hollywood agencies and producers.

Simon Stephenson claims to have "irrefutable evidence" of plagiarism. He agrees that "people can often have surprisingly similar ideas," but claims that this is not the case in this case.