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X marks the spot for Fox, Marvel

20th Century Fox's film division is aiming to throw a wrench into Tribune
Entertainment's new action hour, Mutant X, which has already cleared 90
percent of the country for a fall-2001 launch.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York against producer Marvel Enterprises
Inc., Fox claimed that the show is a rip-off of its hit film, X-Men. But
Marvel has filed a countersuit insisting that X-Men -- which is actually
a Marvel comic -- and Mutant X are two different concepts.

Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment, which is jointly
producing Mutant X with Marvel, said in a statement Wednesday, 'The Fox
claims are wholly without merit . and it's troubling to see them making
unwarranted claims with regard to Mutant X.'

He added that Marvel only granted Fox the film rights to X-Men,
anyway, and never the TV-series rights. Fox can't make a copycat argument to
protect something that wasn't its to begin with, Askin said. With that said, 'Of
course we're moving forward with Mutant X, more confident than ever that
the show will be a great success,' he added.

At press time, a Fox spokesperson had no comment.

Rick Ungar, president of Marvel Characters Group and Mutant X
executive producer, told B&C in January that the show shares some
kinship with X-Men, saying, 'It's a spinoff in a sense, but it kind of
takes it to the next level.'