Broadway producers of To Kill a Mockingbird countersue Harper Lee’s estate | Books


In a courtroom drama worthy of the novel itself, producers of the first Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird are suing the author’s estate. They are offering to perform the play for a judge to prove it is faithful to the book after the estate claimed otherwise.

Hollywood producer Scott Rudin’s company Rudinplay filed a $10m (£6.98m) countersuit on 16 April, a month after Lee’s estate filed legal action to stop the production. The estate’s suit claimed that Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin’s script deviated too much from the 1960 novel about race relations in the US south.

The play is set to premiere on 13 December in New York, but the estate’s lawsuit, according to court documents filed by Rudinplay, “has rendered it impossible for the play to premiere as scheduled … and unless this dispute is resolved in the immediate future, the play will be cancelled”. The lawsuit adds: “Investors are not willing to invest millions of dollars when a cloud exists,” according to a report in the New York Times.

Asking for the estate’s claim to be dismissed, the countersuit accuses estate representative Tonja B Carter of not objecting to the script until six months after it was submitted to Lee’s literary agent in August 2017.

In the countersuit, Rudinplay declares that Carter does not have the authority to act on behalf of Lee’s estate. Carter’s role in the author’s legacy has been controversial since the publication of Lee’s Mockingbird sequel Go Set a Watchman, a manuscript Carter said she had discovered in a safe-deposit box.

“The agreement did not give Ms Lee approval rights over the script of the play, much less did it give her a right to purport to edit individual lines of dialogue,” the countersuit reads. “It certainly did not give such rights to Ms Carter, who is not an author, editor, literary agent or critic, and has no known expertise whatsoever in theatre or writing.”

In Rudinplay’s countersuit, producers offered to perform its adaptation at the courthouse with full cast, including Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch so that a judge could determine if the play departed from the spirit of the novel.

In the March lawsuit, Lee’s estate claimed it had repeatedly approached Rudinplay to remind the company that “it is really important that any spin put on the characters, not least Atticus, does not contradict the author’s image of them”. It accused Sorkin of adding two new characters to the script, altering several characters and writing a script that “did not present a fair depiction of 1930s small-town Alabama”. The lawsuit cited an interview with Sorkin in magazine Playbill, in which he said the book as written “doesn’t work at all” as a play.

In an statement to the New York Times, Carter said: “As the personal representative of the estate of Nelle Harper Lee, I must protect the integrity of her beloved American classic, and therefore had no choice but to file a lawsuit against Rudinplay for failing to honour its contract with Ms Lee. It is my duty and privilege to defend the terms of Ms Lee’s agreement with Rudinplay, and I am determined to do so.”



Source link

About The Author

Related posts

Leave a Reply