Former model Gita Hall May has settled her lawsuit against Lionsgate Entertainment over the use of her image in the Mad Men opening credits.
May worked as a fashion model and actress in the 1950s and ’60s. She was surprised when she watched Mad Men and saw a photo of her that had been taken for a Revlon ad featured on the side of a building in the title sequence.
The 79-year-old told The Hollywood Reporter that she only gave permission for the photo to be used in the Revlon ad. She said she never agreed to allow her image to be “cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series.”
Hall claimed her photo was the centerpiece of the title sequence. She demanded that she be compensated for “the value of her image contributed to the property or the revenues that her image contributed to their profit.”
Mad Me executive producer Scott Hornbacher said the opening credits contain more than 40 advertisements from that time period. Lionsgate also said that Hall’s photo was “visible for barely more than one second, the image from the advertisement” and “has been altered and combined with dozens of other creatively altered images… to form a highly distinctive opening sequence.” The studio claimed that Hall’s image was covered as a “transformative fair use.”
Lionsgate also said that use of the photo was protected by the First Amendment. A Los Angeles Court was scheduled to hold a hearing on Lionsgate’s anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) motion, but the studio and Hall were able to settle out of court.
Gita Mall Hay said the producers of Mad Men knew enough to have acquired a license from Revlon, if not from her directly. She said she does not have cable and that she was unaware that her image had been used until 2012, when Mad Men became available on home video.