According to The Hollywood Reporter, a woman named Pamela Lawrence has filed a lawsuit against Sony Pictures and other producers of 2007's Death At A Funeral and its 2010 remake, naming (among others) Chris Rock, Neil Labute, Frank Oz, and Columbia Pictures as defendants. Ms. Lawrence is demanding $20 million in damages, 66 percent of gross profits, and an injunction based on her claims that Columbia TriStar infringed upon the copyright of her 1995 book, Caught On Video ... The Most Embarrassing Moment de Funeral, July 11, 1994, Jamaican Volume 1. (Attempts to Google this astounding title have proved futile.) The book purportedly recounts the embarrassments—which were also recorded on videotape and submitted as evidence—the author suffered while at a funeral in Jamaica “when she was stripped of her clothing."
In addition to copyright infringement, Lawrence also alleges breach of implied contract, unfair competition, interference with prospective economic advantage, breach of confidence, deceit, and fraud, stemming from a 1998 incident where Columbia TriStar executives allegedly invited her to a “pitch meeting” whereupon—having collected her book, the videotape, and other "research materials—they allegedly told her to “get lost,” then dared her to take legal action "if you can afford to prove [it]." According to the suit, Lawrence (who's representing herself) did take legal action, and her complaint was settled under “undisclosed terms” in 2001—which Lawrence claims was mocked in the 2010 remake as an inside joke about Colonel Sanders "stealing the recipe for KFC fried chicken from a slave and then settling a claim." Her newest lawsuit is fraught with additional such hyperbolic assertions, including accusations that the remake’s distribution was intended to remove “female competition” from the “inner city,” that Hollywood discriminates against women—with the 82-year wait for a female to win Best Director as evidence—and that Sony Pictures doesn’t hire enough minorities.
Lawrence’s lawsuit, which draws connections between her real-life incident and similar characters, settings, and situations in the film, seems to focus very little on the original 2007 Death At A Funeral set in England, and instead focuses most of her ire on its remake—ironic given the way critics derided its flagrant shot-for-shot creative theft of the original without any apparent interest in reinvention. Sony currently has no comment.
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