Straight Outta Compton might have been a big hit at the box office, making history as the highest grossing film directed by an African-American director, according to CinemaBlend, but the producers and director of the movie have made one formidable enemy.
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) November 4, 2015
Former NWA manager, Jerry Heller, is now slapping Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, F. Gary Gray, and others with a defamation lawsuit. Heller claims that the portrayal of himself as manager of NWA in Straight Outta Compton is inaccurate. The lawsuit, which was filed last Friday in Los Angeles for a value of $110 million, makes numerous other claims, such as false light, trade libel, and breach of oral contract. The lawsuit also names NBCUniversal, Legendary Pictures, Eazy-E’s estate, and Comptown Records.
So, what are Heller’s issues with Straight Outta Compton? Business Standard reports that Heller’s lawyer, Michael R. Shapiro, stated it makes Heller look bad.
“Untrue statements in the movie made Heller look like a dishonest, sleazy guy; that he was in effect responsible for the group breaking up.”
Straight Outta Compton is an American crime drama that follows the rise and fall of the hip hop group NWA as they literally change the music scene during the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Members of NWA included Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy E., DJ Yella, and MC Ren. The Guardian reports an excerpt of the complaint Heller has against Straight Outta Compton.
“The insidiousness of defendants’ behaviour is underscored by the fact that the film may become the largest globally grossing music-story based film ever. The larger the success of the film, the greater the damages to plaintiff, who has been and continues to be defamed, ridiculed and robbed of his personal and financial rights to the extent that the intentional and egregious behaviour of defendants demands the imposing of punitive damages.”
One of the more significant aspects of Heller’s alleged defamation in Straight Outta Compton was the portrayal of his character as being responsible for the breakup of NWA. Heller claims this is not true. He also claims he did not do many of the acts he is shown doing in the movie, such as withholding a $75,000 check from Ice Cube or taking advantage of the group members, Time reported.
So what do the defendants think of the lawsuit? So far, there hasn’t been any reaction in the media. The lawyer representing Dr. Dre and Ice Cube’s representative have refused to comment. A spokesperson for NBCUniversal has also refrained from commenting on the lawsuit.
The success of Straight Outta Compton may have angered Heller, but it has done F. Gary Gray a world of good in his career. He is now slated to direct Furious 8. And NWA members have enjoyed producing the movie. Their spirit is shown in the official NWA Straight Outta Compton video.
The popularity of the movie has caught on and has become a meme that has spread like wildfire across the internet. Check out this tweet by none other than Bette Midler.
“Straight Outta Compton” is the story of the “world’s most dangerous group,” but I think I know a more dangerous one: pic.twitter.com/mf55Z7jgAO
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) August 10, 2015
And this Instagram post really says it all.
Straight Outta Compton received raving reviews and suggestions of Oscar worthiness, particularly for Jason Mitchell’s portrayal of Eazy E.
Jason Mitchell deserves an Oscar nod for his fearless, jheri juice-splashed portrayal of Eazy E.
— Alejandro NIGlesias (@AlejandroDaGr8) August 15, 2015
Whether or not the movie makes its way into the Oscar nominations, it is clearly a movie that is nearly as ground-breaking as the groups it portrays. The only thing for anyone to do is to get out and see the film to really appreciate its brilliance, even if the portrayal of Jerry Heller is all wrong.
[Photo by Marsaili McGrath / Getty Images]