Friend Claims J.Lo Stole His Movie Idea

05/19/2003 at 01:00 PM EDT

Jennifer Lopez seems to have her lawyers working overtime.

The singer-actress -- already embroiled in a legal squabble involving her homage to the 1983 film "Flashdance" for her new video "I'm Glad," and the rights to the fragrance name Glow -- has now been served papers by a former friend who claims she stole his idea to adapt the tragic opera "Carmen" as a screen vehicle for her.

In a $5 million suit filed in L.A. Superior Court on May 2, Adam Shankman says that he was directing Lopez, 32, in "The Wedding Planner" when he first told her she'd be perfect as the fiery gypsy woman who torments a Spanish solider, reports New York's Daily News.

Georges Bizet based his 1875 opera "Carmen" on a novel by France's Prosper Merimee, and the property, besides being a staple of opera companies around the world, has served as an inspiration to Hollywood for movies starring Rita Hayworth (1948's "The Loves of Carmen") and Dorothy Dandridge (1954's "Carmen Jones") to an MTV version with Beyonce Knowles (2001's "Carmen: A Hip Hopera"). There was even a 1990 "Carmen on Ice" for TV, starring Katarina Witt.

Shankman's breach-of-contract action claims Lopez later pitched the idea on her own to Universal Pictures. Said Lopez's rep: "We have not seen the complaint, but I'm surprised that anyone would have the audacity to claim intellectual domain over a property as well known as 'Carmen.'"

Also named in the suit is Lopez's manager Benny Medina.

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