The estate of Harper Lee does not like whatever Aaron Sorkin’s genius man brain is cooking up. His Broadway production was slapped with a lawsuit in March for deviating too far from Lee’s original novel To Kill A Mockingbird, which they claim violates the usage agreement. On Monday, producer Scott Rudin fired back at the estate with a $10 million countersuit.
According to Deadline, the suit alleges that the estate’s executor Tonja B. Carter’s objections to the adaptation have put the entire production in peril:
Specifically, Carter objected to what she interpreted, from reading a script draft, as the depiction of Mockingbird protagonist Atticus Finch as an apologist for the racism of the tale’s Depression-era South. Finch, as memorably played by Gregory Peck in the 1962 film version, has long been viewed by readers and viewers as the epitome of racial tolerance and understanding, a humanist icon.
As Deadline points out, Sorkin’s interpretation could easily be coming from Lee’s own work in the long-awaited sequel, Go Set A Watchman, which showed Atticus as “an apologist for racial segregation.” Like many outwardly liberal white people, he was a racist all along.
Rudin says that Carter’s attempts to control the script have scared off investors, and is threatening to cancel the show entirely, which was scheduled to go on in December 2018. And, not to be dramatic, but Rudin has offered to stage the play as it is for a federal judge to show that they are being faithful to Lee’s work.
Carter will not be outdone, and released the following statement:
“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 [Rudin’s production company] for failing to honor 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.”
To be continued.