A woman has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the makers of Death at a Funeral (the British version and the Chris Rock remake), saying they ripped off her 1995 book about being stripped of her clothes at a Jamaica funeral. The book? Caught on Video … The Most Embarrassing Moment de Funeral, July 11, 1994, Jamaican Volume 1. Well of course, who could forget that best seller? Send me messages through the TV, Hollywood Reporter:
Pamela Lawrence lists similarities in incidents, characters and settings between the works. For example, Martin Lawrence plays a writer who is traveling from L.A. to New York and complains that if he doesn’t get money, he’ll have to do a reality show. In her book, Pamela Lawrence is a writer from New York traveling to Los Angeles with problems worthy of a talk show.
Who flies between New York and L.A. AND talks about TV? PRACTICALLY IDENTICAL.
The similarities are somewhat thin, but the plaintiff says her work (including a videotape of her real life experience) was strong enough that agents at William Morris signed her as a client.
In 1998, Lawrence says she was contacted by the co-vice chairman of Sony’s Columbia TriStar to attend a “pitch meeting.” Later, she was allegedly told by them to “get lost, if you can afford to prove our action see you in court, we employee (sic) the best attorneys.”
Dem bumbaclot suits, de tell me, “Hey, mon, we employee only de best, buoyee.”
According to the complaint, Lawrence responded by filing a lawsuit against them about a decade ago. In 2001, that case was allegedly settled on undisclosed terms, a fact which Lawrence claims made its way into the 2010 film as a joke about Col. Harland Sanders stealing the recipe for KFC fried chicken from a slave and then settling a claim.
DEM STOLE ME BOOK, AN’ DEN DEY GUAN COMPAR ME TA FRIED CHEE-KAHN?! Uh oh, I smell an accusation of racism…
Lawrence is representing herself in court her claims include racism, a plot to eradicate the female population of urban cities, and allegations of inside jokes within the movie that were specifically intended to humiliate her.
Many of the claims stretch reason, but Lawrence has also gone to extreme lengths to craft a 54-page complaint that almost looks and feels as if it was drawn up by a $500-an-hour attorney. She cites applicable laws and case citations (although none are required in complaints), copyright registrations, numerous exhibits and perhaps most impressively a frame work intended to bypass the legal pitfalls that typically trip up those asserting idea theft in Hollywood.
That is, if a judge can see beyond the rampant paranoia on display in the lawsuit. Lawrence claims the defendants intended to destroy the “female competition” from the “inner city” in relevant markets by distributing the film, that Hollywood has a consistent pattern of discriminating against women as evidenced by the fact it took 82 years for a woman to win best director at the Oscars, and that this case is an example of why there are so few minorities at Sony Pictures.
That the lawsuit would be rambling and paranoid doesn’t surprise me at all, because, as I wrote in my upcoming book, Sweeping Generalizations and Casual Xenophobia, raving street people are Jamaiacan at least 62% of the time. I based this on a subway ride I once took with a lady wearing a newspaper diaper who sang “Me no like lesbians an’ me no like batty buays/stay outta my life/don’ follow me aroun'” over and over again for 40 minutes. In her defense, she had a beautiful voice. Long story short, I would describe her accent as “very Jamaican sounding.”