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OFF BEAT: Man says 'Donnie Darko' used details from his life


A string of similarities in the 2001 cult-favorite film “Donnie Darko” prompted a California man to file a lawsuit against the film’s producers.

Michael Charles Bertsch claims that New York-based News Corp. and subsidiaries recorded his phone conversations and illegally used details from his life in the movie “Donnie Darko.”

In the film, after a bizarre accident that nearly kills him, a troubled teenager believes his world will end in 28 days and is guided by a monstrous rabbit named Frank, which only he can see.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed last week in federal court in Washington, Mr. Bertsch lists similarities from the movie that include:

• "The family car in the movie was a sky blue Ford Taurus. My father has the exact same car with the exact same color."

• "Donnie Darko's sister's name is Elizabeth. My sister's name is Elizabeth."

• "In the movie, a black 911 Porsche is parked in front of the Darko house. At the time I owned a black 911 Porsche."

• "Donnie's girlfriend Gretchen is introduced as a new student in the movie. Gretchen is a German name, and my fiancee was living in Germany and resembles the woman in the movie"

• "The main premise of the movie is about a plane engine that drops in Donnie Darko's room. I worked with a company that worked with the FAA in recovering parts and downed aircraft."

Mr. Bertsch also claims that News Corp. recorded phone conversations which where used in the television series “The X-Files” and that the main character in the series “Burn Notice” “got burnt just like myself,” according to court documents.

According to the complaint, which also names News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, Mr. Bertsch says News Corp. is guilty of defamation and invasion of privacy.