UPDATE, 4:37 PM: “These claims have no merit and will be addressed in due course by the Court,” said The Good Lie producer Molly Smith’s Black Label Media today about the lawsuit they were slapped with along with Imagine Entertainment, Alcorn Entertainment and screenwriter Margaret Nagle among others.
Imagine and Alcorn haven’t said anything yet about the complaint, but financing and producing shingle BLM has a lot to say. “We are very proud of our film, The Good Lie, which was inspired by the stories of thousands of Lost Boys and Girls living here in America,” the company noted. “We are equally proud of the great charitable endeavors of the Good Lie Fund, which was created by the filmmakers to support organizations of Lost Boys and Girls both here in America and in Africa. To date the fund has distributed in excess of $500,000 for the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, as well as for many of the accredited 501c3 charitable organizations who support Lost Boys and Girls here in America. We have been fortunate to have the support of countless Lost Boys and Girls throughout the United States who have supported this Film and the Good Lie Fund. Regrettably, the Plaintiffs and their attorneys have made claims that are not supported by the facts or the law.”
PREVIOUS, 12:27 PM: In what could be a potentially pivotal case of “they said, they said,” the 2014 Reese Witherspoon-starrer The Good Lie is being hauled into federal court over promises made and promises, some say, not kept.
“Defendants used the life stories of fifty-four Sudanese refugees of genocide to produce the recently released film The Good Lie,” a multi-claim breach-of-contract complaint says (read it here). The suit, filed Thursday, names Good Lie producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, as well as Alcorn Entertainment, Black Label Media, screenwriter Margaret Nagle and others.
Essentially, the 54 Sudanese refugees now living in and around Atlanta are claiming they are co-writers or joint authors of the Phillipe Falaradeau-directed pic. While that might be a bit of a legal overreach, it is not altogether unattainable, especially with such obviously compelling plaintiffs. They also want also compensation for “an amount to be proven at trial” for fraud and other damages, plus legal fees.
The fact that The Good Lie, which premiered at TIFF last year and was released on October 14, wasn’t a hit has little to do with what the plaintiffs want on promises that go back over a decade, to when the idea for of the film was first developed. Despite the fact the script was sold to Paramount and then to Imagine and others, the refugees said they were never told and never agreed to how and where what they said would end up being utilized.
The complaint alleges that more recent efforts on the matter went basically nowhere — notably on the matter of a foundation to assist the people of war-plagued South Sudan. “The refugees partnered with Defendants to create The Good Lie’s script, in part, based upon their promise that a non-profit foundation organized and run by the refugees would be the sole beneficiary of any fundraising efforts associated with The Good Lie,” the 101-page filing reads. “The Foundation was formed to use the proceeds of the movie’s fundraising efforts to fund schools and other philanthropic causes in South Sudan. However, neither the refugees nor their Foundation have been compensated in any fashion for sharing their traumatic personal stories and assisting with the creation of the script for The Good Lie.”
This is the sort of thing that you usually see settled, but if it goes to court a lot of how the sausage is made, to put it mildly, will see the light of day. The plaintiffs are represented by Jason W. Graham, Raegan M. King and T. Brandon Welch of Atlanta’s Graham & Jensen, LLP.