Beatty, in response, has sued the Chicago-based company for $30 million, saying Tribune violated a complex agreement regarding the Tracy rights.
Under the 1985 agreement, Beatty took control of the Tracy character from Tribune but was required to give it back at the company's request under several conditions and following a two-year notification process.
Beatty gave the rights to The Walt Disney Co. and in 1990 starred in and produced "Dick Tracy" for Disney. The film, which featured Tracy's catch phrase "I'm on my way," made more than $100 million.
In 2002, according to Beatty's lawsuit filed Friday in Superior Court, Tribune took back control of Tracy and notified Disney — but not through the process outlined in the agreement.
Beatty is now ready to make another film and "has a very good idea" for the story but has been held back by Tribune's claim, Fields said.
Fields said Beatty's original agreement with Tribune was negotiated specifically to allow the 68-year-old actor a chance to make another Tracy film.
"It was very carefully done and they just ignored it," he said. "The Tribune is a big, powerful company and they think they can just run roughshod over people. They picked the wrong guy."
Steve Tippie, vice president of marketing and licensing for Tribune Media Services, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
Tribune Media Services is a division of the Tribune Co., which owns radio and TV stations nationwide and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times.