News reports say Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino have teamed up in a lawsuit against a movie distributor and a watch company they say used their names, voices, and likenesses without permission. The actors said in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan this week that they never authorized a commercial tie-in between Tutima watches and Overture Films, the distributor of their recently released pic Righteous Kill. “Had their permission been sought, both De Niro and Pacino would have flatly refused,” the lawsuit said, stressing that De Niro has only commercially endorsed a product or service in the United States under very “specific and compelling circumstances” while Pacino in his career has never commercially endorsed any product or service in the United States. All actors no matter how famous have automatic protections in the standard SAG contracts against precisely this sort of thing. Yet the AMPTP’s proposed SAG contract seeks to remove those protections and not seek anybody’s consent for reuse of their clips and likeness. The AMPTP also is demanding that there be no prior notification of a sponsor’s involvement or request to plug a product within a scene.
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