(Brinkwire) Profits from the use of a song written by notorious cult leader Charles Manson in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood are poised to go to the killer’s grandson, against director Quentin Tarantino’s wishes, DailyMail.com can reveal.
The long anticipated drama – starring Brad Pitt, Leonard DiCaprio and Margot Robbie – heavily features the Manson killings and climaxes in a shocking bloodbath 50 years after the grisly murders.
And the filmmakers feature prominently a song called Look at Your Game, Girl written by aspiring songwriter Manson before his followers’ murderous spree. The melodic tune is sung a cappella by girls in Manson’s ‘family’ as they stroll the streets of Los Angeles and dumpster-dive for food.
Tarantino, 56, has said that he only used the killer’s music after assuring himself that Manson’s family would not benefit, and that royalties and licensing fees would go to the victims’ families.
But since the movie was released, controversy has exploded and a DailyMail.com investigation has discovered the issue around Manson’s music is far more complex – and likely to end up in court.
‘Quentin told friends that he struggled with the decision to use Manson’s music, and only agreed to use it after being assured that any money from its use would go to the victims’ families,’ a movie insider told DailyMail.com
Mary Ramos, music supervisor on the film, agrees: ‘Even considering using that, we wanted to find out . . . what happens if this is used, where the money goes. And there was a trust set up for the victims, and no-one even associated with the Mansons and the Manson family makes money off that song.
‘Nobody’s out to make Charles Manson look good in this with this production.’
But the tangled legal history of the rights to Manson’s music tells a very different story.
‘The matter is complex from the legal point of view,’ said Polish actress Maja Frykowska, whose grandfather Wojciech Frykowski was among Manson’s victims.
‘The death of my grandfather is the most painful, dramatic and darkest chapter in my family’s history.’
Frykowski was butchered alongside Roman Polanski’s actress wife Sharon Tate and two friends by Manson’s twisted ‘family.’
Manson had initially visited Polanski’s home in search of Hollywood legend Doris Day’s music producer son Terry Melcher, who had discussed giving Manson a recording deal.
The cult leader was angry that Melcher had changed his mind on the contract, but found that he no longer lived at the house.
On the night of August 8, 1969, Manson ordered family devotees Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins to return to the house and kill everyone inside.
Tate, eight and half months pregnant, was stabbed to death, and her corpse was hung from a rafter of the Bel Air home.
Aspiring writer Frykowski, aged 32, who had moved into the home with his girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, was stabbed 51 times, bludgeoned 13 times with a blunt object, and shot twice. Police found his body on the porch.
Folger was found in the garden, her white dress stained red with blood.
Tate’s friend, celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, was also savagely stabbed to death.
Rosemary’s Baby director Polanski was away filming, and escaped the slaughter.
Frykowski was survived by two children, and in 1971 his eldest son, Bartek, aged 12, filed a wrongful death suit against Manson.
Bartek won his lawsuit, but did not see a penny of compensation as Manson was penniless and behind bars.
No other victims’ families bothered suing Manson, who seemed unlikely to ever generate any money to make a lawsuit worthwhile.
But that changed when rockers Guns N’ Roses recorded Manson’s song Look at Your Game, Girl on hit album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ that went platinum in 1993.
Lawyer Nathaniel Friedman, who had filed Bartek Frykowski’s 1971 wrongful death suit and for decades represented the family, negotiated a lucrative settlement with the band.
‘We did recover $133,000, which until the O.J. Simpson wrongful death suit was the largest sum ever recovered for the family of a murder victim in California,’ says Friedman.
But the wrongful death judgment had to be renewed in court every ten years, and appears to have been allowed to lapse more than a decade ago.
‘The judgment was renewed for the first and second term, and I think for the third,’ says Friedman.
‘But after that it was not renewed because Bartek Frykowski had died in 1999, under mysterious circumstances. He had a restaurant or cafe in Munich, Germany, when he died.’
Friends believed Bartek had been murdered, though Polish authorities ruled his death a suicide.
Without the wrongful death judgment being extended for another ten years, the rights to profits from Manson’s music reverted to the killer’s family – though that led to a bitter dispute when Manson died behind bars in 2017, aged 83.
Two men claimed to be Manson’s biological sons, another claimed to be his biological grandson, and a friend claimed to have been bequeathed Manson’s estate in his final will.
After a lengthy legal battle Manson’s grandson, Jason Freeman, prevailed, and was given permission to take possession of the killer’s remains in March last year.
But a lengthy court battle is still ongoing over exactly who will inherit the Manson estate but ex MMA fighter Freeman, 43, of Bradenton, Florida, will most likely prevail given his early success.
Ultimately, this means that any royalties, licensing fees or profits from the use of Manson’s song in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood could now go to the killer’s grandson.
Even if a trust had previously been set up to gather royalties from Manson songs for his victims’ families, that trust would no longer receive money once the wrongful death judgement failed to be extended.
But attorney Friedman believes that Frykowski’s surviving heirs – his granddaughters Maja and Rozalia, and grandson Sergiusz, understood to be living in Poland – could still file suit to revive the wrongful death judgment.
Friedman said: ‘His heirs can claim that the film studio is benefiting from unjust enrichment.
‘The money should go to his heirs. That’s very reasonable, because the filmmakers are going to make a pile of money on this film.
‘It’s capitalizing on tragedy. It’s immoral and amoral, and all they’re concerned about is hauling in the money. Their father was dead and could not renew the judgment, but now they can do so.
‘I think that Quentin Tarantino and Sony Pictures should even consider making a goodwill payment to Mr. Frykowski’s heirs.
‘It would be the right thing to do, because they’re going to make so much money from this film, on the back of Charles Manson.’
Maja Frykowska discussed the Manson killings in her memoir ‘Pokonaj Siebie’ published in Poland, which roughly translates as ‘Overcoming Yourself.’
‘I haven’t seen the film yet,’ she said of the Tarantino bloodbath. ‘The Polish premiere is set for this month (August). I won’t comment on that until then.’
‘Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood’ premiered in the US on July 26 and will premiere in the UK on August 14.
As well as Manson’s song the movie features classic songs from the 60s, including hits by Deep Purple, Simon & Garfunkel, and Paul Revere & The Raiders.