A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Wednesday approved a settlement agreement between three of children of the late Frank Zappa, in which the second-oldest sibling agreed to stop verbal attacks on the other two and on their late mother in the media.
Judge Daniel Juarez said the resolution binds Ahmet, Diva and Dweezil Zappa to the settlement, but not their oldest sibling, 51-year-old Moon Unit Zappa.
Jeffrey Forer, attorney for Ahmet and Diva Zappa, said his clients had no objection to the exclusion of Moon Zappa from the agreement, saying his clients mainly wanted to settle their disputes with Dweezil Zappa.
Moon Zappa has a 25 percent interest in the family trust.
“Everybody has agreed to bury the hatchet and move on,” Forer said after the hearing.
Forer had asked Juarez to approve the settlement in February. But attorney Ryan Szczepanik, on behalf of Moon Zappa, said that even if the settlement excludes his client, he was still concerned about some of the language in the agreement at the time. He said the revised wording is now acceptable to his client.
In his court papers, Szczepanik says his client regularly performs comedy about herself and her family members and that she worried the settlement terms could jeopardize her livelihood.
Ahmet and Diva Zappa alleged in their court papers filed in March 2017 that Dweezil Zappa was unhappy he was not named a co-trustee of the family trust instead of their younger brother and sister after their mother, Gail, died of lung cancer at age 70 in October 2015.
The settlement agreement includes a promise by Dweezil to discontinue making disparaging remarks about family members.
In their original court papers, Ahmet, 44, and Diva, 39, wanted a judge to allow them to set up a website and “take other actions in order to respond to these scurrilous attacks to protect and preserve the value of the assets of the trust without fear or retribution …”
The younger siblings alleged that in October 2016, 49-year-old Dweezil posted on his website that he no longer was allowed to use the federal trademark “Zappa Plays Zappa” because of an order “fired off by the ZFT,” referring to the Zappa Family Trust.
No such order was in effect and the trademark was obtained by the family trust in 2007 to allow any of Frank Zappa’s children to play his music for the benefit of them all, the petition stated.
Under the settlement, Dweezil agreed to remove all negative comments about the ZFT on his website and merchandise. In return, he will receive all his CDs, vinyl records and posters currently under ZFT possession as well as any master tapes the trust may be holding on his behalf.
The ZFT will not oppose or challenge any of the siblings from using their full legal name in any live music and entertainment worldwide, according to the settlement.
The co-trustees have agreed to send all ZFT beneficiaries a monthly review of pending business deals and any planned projects. In addition, both sides agreed “not so say anything negative about each other in public.”
Before either side can file a lawsuit, they must try to avert litigation by talking to each other and, if that is unsuccessful, attend mediation.
Before the settlement was reached, the younger Zappa siblings alleged that Dweezil had “refused to acknowledge the trust’s ownership of the (trademark) and has refused to sell Frank Zappa merchandise at live engagements. He uses assets belonging to the family and owned by the trust and appropriates them to his own use and then accuses the trust of attempting to stop him from playing the music of his father.”
To mock the trust and his younger siblings, and to attack the legacy of their mother, Dweezil toured under the title “Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the (epithet) He Wants: Cease and Desist Tour,” the petition stated.
In November 2016, Dweezil said in an interview with Magnet magazine that his mother had “run herself and the business into the ground, spent $20 million in lawsuits and by her demise was $6 million in debt.”
Dweezil also said his mother had not paid him for 10 years.
In truth, Gail Zappa put her younger children in charge of the trust assets because Ahmet was already running most of the business prior to her death and Diva had been assisting her mother in running the family business for years, according to Ahmet and Diva Zappa’s court papers, which further state that Dweezil also was paid more than $100,000 in 2007-15.
Frank Zappa released more than 60 albums as a solo artist and with his band Mothers of Invention. He died In December 1993 at age 52 of renal failure and metastasized prostate cancer.
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