Monday, June 21, 2010

'Found' Amanda Sues Film Director Uncle for Invasion of Privacy

Libel-in-fiction cases are springing up around the nation, according to, with the latest involving the about-to-be released film, Finding Amanda, starring Matthew Broderick.

The film has prompted a lawsuit in Nevada's Clark County District Court by the filmmaker's niece, who alleges the movie's character of a prostitute is drawn from her life. The suit, Alix Daily v. Capacity Pictures, LLC et al. (Case No. A-10-617721-C) includes counts alleging invasion of privacy and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The movie's writer and director, Peter Tolan, is a defendant in the case, in which Daily, Tolan's niece, alleges the character of Amanda was created without her permission, using personal and confidential information about her that Tolan and his wife learned while helping Daily with a personal crisis. The plot of Finding Amanda involves Broderick's gambling-addicted screenwriter's efforts to save his niece Amanda from prostitution and drug use in Las Vegas.  Tolan purportedly has told interviewers that the film was inspired by personal real-life events.

Previously, California resident Brendan Cody has sued author Alexandra Sokoloff, alleging her novel, The Unseen, features a character with his name whose troubled family background includes alcohol abuse. Cody claims Sokoloff used personal information about him in her book  that he revealed to her as a personal friend. The Unseen is a 2009 thriller involving two psychology professors investigating paranormal events in North Carolina. The fictional Cody purportedly suffers from a mood disorder shared by the real-life Cody, as well as a personal and family history of alcohol abuse.

Additionally, reports that  Danzy Senna, author of the memoir Where Did You Sleep Last Night?, has been sued by her retired journalist father Carl Senna for allegedly disclosing he was an alcoholic, which he purportedly admitted to her on condition that she keep the information confidential.

Creative Writing professors may think twice before advising students to write about what they know and real-life experiences. It remains to be seen whether the spate of libel in fiction cases has a chilling effect on the creative arts.

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