Lately, Hollywood has been a hotbed of defamation. The latest libel lawsuit conceived in Tinsel Town involves a screenwriter, his ex-paramour and Indie Julianne Moore Vehicle, “What Maisie Knew.”
Indie Flick Based On Henry James Novel Results In Libel-In-Fiction Lawsuit
In 2012, indie flick “What Maisie Knew” hit theaters. A wrenching tale of separation dynamics, the movie tells the story of an acrimonious child custody battle exacerbated by the personalities of two self-accommodating parents.
Carroll Cartwright penned the screenplay. During the promotion tour, he said he chose the project because he “could relate.” You see, Cartwright was in a six-year relationship with a woman named Ronee Sue Blakley. They had a child. But when Blakley and Cartwright ran into that oft-encountered wall of irreconcilable differences, a contentious child custody suit ensued.
For Ronee Sue Blakley, the screenplay and real life events bore too much of a striking resemblance, so she filed a libel-in-fiction lawsuit.
So-called “libel-in-fiction” cases can go either way. Many claims are thrown out early, but other petitions result in big plaintiff wins. For example, a jury awarded Vickie Stewart $100,000 for being portrayed as a promiscuous alcoholic in the book “The Red Hat Club.”
In this libel-in-fiction claim, Blakley is charging defamation and emotional distress. By way of argument, she offers a litany of similarities between the movie and her life with Cartwright — not the least of which being that Cartwright changed the main female character’s name to something very similar to her own, while leaving many of the other names unchanged from the original novel.
What Are The Plaintiff’s Chances of Winning This Libel-In-Fiction Lawsuit?
In this case, the thing most working against Blakley is the almost obscene prescience of Henry James’ original novel – and subsequent source material for the 21st century Hollywood version. Though there may be similarities between the movie and Cartwright’s life with Blakley, the 1897 novel was about two irresponsible parents, with joint custody, and the affected child.
We’ll keep an eye on this case, as libel-in-fiction suits are a crap shoot – and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Contact A Libel Lawyer
Are you dealing with a defamation situation? Do you need the advice of a defamation attorney? If yes, get in touch with Kelly / Warner today. Our slander and libel legal practice has – successfully – handled all manners of defamation lawsuits. We’re quick, discreet and know slander and libel law like Wayne Gretzky knows hockey.
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