An attorney representing John Paul Getty III’s sister calls Trust, the forthcoming FX series about Getty’s 1973 kidnapping, a “wildly sensationalized false portrayal” of the Getty family, and demands to review all episodes of the 10-part limited series.
Attorney Martin Singer today in a letter obtained by Deadline accused Trust executive producer Danny Boyle and FX Networks of falsely implying that family members were complicit in the kidnapping as part of a plot to dupe the family patriarch out of millions of dollars.
“This is outrageous,” Singer wrote (read the letter in full here). “It is ironic that you have titled your television series Trust. More fitting titles would be Lies or Mistrust, since the defamatory story it tells about the Gettys colluding in the kidnapping is false and misleading.”
FX has not returned emails seeking comment.
Getty was 16 years old when he disappeared, and his mother received a ransom note two days later demanding $17 million. He was held captive for months, terrorized, maimed and left in an abandoned gas station. The sensational crime resulted in nine arrests and two criminal convictions.
The kidnapping formed the basis of Sony and Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World which hit theaters in December.
This is the second time an FX series based on real events has brought out the lawyers. Olivia de Havilland is suing the network and Ryan Murphy Productions over her portrayal by Catherine Zeta-Jones in last year’s docu-drama Feud: Bette and Joan. The California Court of Appeal will hear arguments March 20 about whether she can proceed with the suit, which claims she was portrayed in a false light.
In the case of Trust, which premieres March 25, Singer objects to what he calls the “mean spirited” depictions of family members as “greedily cooperating” or somehow facilitating the kidnapping, a suggestion he calls “unconscionable.”
Singer writes that it’s defamatory to falsely accuse someone of a crime. Even if the series doesn’t name Getty’s sister, Ariadne Getty, the attorney notes, Boyle and FX could nonetheless be legally liable for the damaging implication.
“Trust amounts to a deliberate fictionalization masquerading as fact, giving rise to significant liability,” Singer threatens.
Singer said it would be would be “a travesty” if philanthropist Ariadne Getty’s good works and family name were “sullied” by the series. He demanded that FX make all episodes immediately available for review, and hinted at legal action.
“This is an extremely serious matter,” Singer writes. “We caution you in the strongest possible terms to refrain from continuing to defame Ariadne Getty and portraying her in an offensive false light. If you persist in doing so, you proceed at your own peril.”