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“Straight Outta Compton” Lawsuit Allowed to Move Forward
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Straight Outta Compton

Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) talk business in “Straight Outta Compton.” Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Summary: Gerald Heller, the ex-manager of N.W.A., sued Universal Pictures because of his portrayal in the hit film, Straight Outta Compton.

The lawsuit filed by ex-N.W.A. manager Gerald “Jerry” Heller is moving forward. He sued Universal Pictures for $110 million because of his portrayal in the blockbuster biopic Straight Outta Compton. The studio tried to throw out the lawsuit; but this week, a Los Angeles federal judge sided with Heller, allowing the suit to survive, according to Deadline.

  
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Heller sued for defamation, misappropriation of likeness, and copyright infringement. The manager was played by Paul Giamati, and in the film, he discovered Compton rap group N.W.A. and helped make them superstars. While he formed a close relationship with band leader, Eazy-E, he seemed to screw over Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and the other group members with bad contracts. In his lawsuit, Heller said he came off as “sleazy.”

Judge Michael Fitzgerald said that the people involved with the flick “were aware these statements were false.” The people involved include director F. Gary Gray, Legendary Pictures Funding, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube, who were all named as defendants. Heller’s attorneys now have one month to identify specially who was responsible for the statements and depictions that Heller is contending. At the moment, the legal team just listed whoever was credited in the movie.

While Heller is adamant that the movie depiction of him is false, the defendants maintain its truthfulness. In filings on February 10, they had asked to dismiss the suit or have it shut down by anti-SLAPP measures. California’s anti-SLAPP is a statute first enacted in1992. It is a special motion to strike a complaint when the complaint arises from someone exercising their right to free speech. In their anti-SLAPP motion, the defendants said the burden to prove probability fell on Heller, not them. They also said the film came with a disclaimer that it was a dramatized story.

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For fans of rap, the hatred of N.W.A. towards Heller is legendary. For instance, in Dr. Dre’s hit song “Bitches Ain’t Shit” he references Heller as “the white bitch” who hangs around Eazy-E.

Heller’s lead attorney is Michael Richard Shapiro. He is also being represented by Brent Finch of Finch Law. The defendants are represented by law firm, Greenberg Traurig.



Source: Deadline



 

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