The Hollyweird Legal Round Up: We Need to Talk About James Cameron

The Hollyweird Legal Round-Up is our weekly guide to entertainment industry lawsuits and lawyerly mud-slinging, written by our legal correspondent, real-life Hollywood lawyer “Buttockus Finch.” (Probably not his real name). This week he takes on the James Cameron suit du jour, Lynne Ramsay’s alleged drunkenness on Jane Got A Gun, and Richie Incognito.

Aloha, fans and f*cktards!

Let’s get right to it because YO, as I probably don’t need to remind the reader, LO.

1. He Came, He Ron, But Will He Conquer? As previously discussed, director (Piranha Part Two: The Spawning) and Home Tree-Hugger James Cameron was sued for allegedly stealing the “original” “idea” behind Avatar. The court went his way on that one, so I guess his legal problems are over. But soft–what litigation through yonder window breaks?

The family of a passenger killed in a helicopter crash during the production of the documentary “DeepSea Challenge” has filed a wrongful death suit against James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment as well as the manufacturer of the helicopter, Robinson Helicopter Company.

Michael deGruy was killed in the February, 2012 crash near Jasper’s Brush, Australia, along with the pilot of the helicopter, Andrew Wight.

Jesus, Murray, what now? I’ve got three blue monkey movies to write. JC apparently worked on a thing called Deepsea Chopra or some such nonsense, either to prove that he could make a nonlucrative movie or to find that necklace a senile grandma tossed overboard.

Yikes. “Diving to the deepest point in the Mariana Trench is something like riding a cramped elevator that starts in a steamy tropical forest and ends in the dead of night at the North Pole.” Sounds fantastic. For the man who has everything except the bends.

So a helicopter crashed during filming of a documentary about the project, and the family of a photographer onboard is suing.

Sad. Yeah.

So, did Cameron shoot down the helicopter or something? The plaintiff is suing Cameron’s production company, along with the manufacturer of the helicopter and the estate of the pilot. I say “estate” because the pilot died in the crash too. Suing a dead guy–that’s some cold sh*t, plaintiff. One argument is that Cameron’s company was negligent in hiring a bad pilot, but they’re also saying that the helicopter manufacturer made an unsafe product.

Sure, these theories may be contradictory, but that’s the magic of the legal system. It’s one of the reasons most people would prefer to see differences settled in Thunderdome instead of court, but there is some logic to it–the plaintiff needs more facts before he can know exactly what happened, and the only practical way to get those is to sue. In a weird way, it helps the aviation industry in general to settle these things openly, either to a) blame the pilot or b) say that some particular thing went wrong–the O-ring or Dalkon Shield or whatever–but we know what it is now and we’ll totally fix it. Preferably a), but even b) is better than c) “hey, sometimes these things just fall out of the sky, charge it to the game.”

I’m going with d) stay away from helicopters. Fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rhoads and Vic Morrow will have my back on that one.

2. Women Be Shootin.  Or, as it turns out, not:

On Monday, producers of the movie sued Lynne Ramsay in federal court in New Mexico, alleging that the project’s former director was paid $750,000 to tweak Brian Duffield’s screenplay and to helm the film but that she didn’t follow through on her responsibilities and delayed production as a result.

Lynne Ramsay, who was already suspect because she thought that Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly would make a plausible married couple, was hired to direct and write a western called Jane Got a Gun (lots of previous coverage on that story). The producers are now suing her for some wee transgressions, such as: being “repeatedly under the influence of alcohol” and “abusive to members of the cast and crew” while on location; “point[ing] a prop gun directly at . . . the camera crew” [younger readers should now Google “Brandon Lee” and “Jon-Erik Hexum”]; delaying the start of principal photography “[i]n an attempt to extort a renegotiation of the material terms of her contract”; and, finally, failing to show up for the first day of filming.

She is being sued in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sadly, the most famous defense attorney in the city has recently become unavailable.

Credit Where It is Due. That there is some outlaw sh*t.

But. To be fair, we need to hear Ramsay’s side of the story–this could all be hot goss and so forth. These allegations, however, cannot be deemed career enhancing. On the spectrum of female director reputations, Ramsay might want to veer in the direction of Kathryn Bigelow and away from Leni Riefenstahl.

And. Playing the eponymous Jane is onanist-favorite Natalie Portman (Untitled Terrence Malick Project 2014, Three Bad Star Warses). The male lead is played by Ewan McGregor (Shallow Grave, Three Bad Star Warses), after Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper had, in rapid succession, already accepted the role and then quit. So: possibly insane writer/director, lead role getting passed around by guys like it’s Vince’s mom at The Gathering, reunion of Amidala and Young Obi Wan, horrendous title taken from a lesser Aerosmith song, and Jane is also the name of Portman’s worthless character in the Thor movies? JGAG has the stench of quality all over it.

Gavin O’Connor. Hired as the replacement director. He did the pilot for “The Americans,” and that’s my jam. We wish him well.

3. Settling Scores. Not this time, citizens, because now I’m all about…

4. The Love. I’ve been writing this column for over a month, man and boy, and I find it very enjoyable. But then, I would also enjoy tracking down the quicksand-themed erotica I’ve heard so much about and stranglebating onto a pile of bearer bonds. Why do this, apart from the fact that I will totally do the other thing later? Because I have acquired literally ones of admirers on this site, and I feel indebted to them. And it is oddly pleasurable to write out of affection rather than misanthropy.

Give the People What They Want. The wrinkle is, some of the highest praise I have received is for the way I express ill will towards the few malcontents I have attracted. Pure, unvarnished hatred is my milieu, and I find expressing it at length is as invigorating as an injection of Red Bull straight into my dong vein (RIP Lou Reed). But I’m conflicted. My last target established a dialogue, one in which he called me “defensive and thin skinned.”

“Thin-skinned”? B.F. Esq? I took a hard look at myself in the mirror, after I cleared the rails off of it, and wondered if maybe Satan’s Taint (term of art) was right. Moreover, is it worthwhile to respond to prose more commonly found written on asylum walls, in feces? But then I realized that extremely talented people I want very much to emulate, such as Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis, make the effort to decimate hecklers, and I believe their impetus is something other than self doubt. And many artists draw strength from conflict. I mean, where would Tupac be without B.I.G.? Alive? OK!

So I will continue to directly address the f*cktasters as they appear, but no single individual more than once. After that it’s like hitting a mediocrity piñata—nothing worthwhile comes out of it, so it’s not rewarding except for the cardio.

5. Pitches, Bitches. Hey, you can’t always wait for the “talent” to initiate a project. Sometimes you hear about a man so unjustly attacked, so viciously bullied, that justice demands his story be told. And that’s how I’ve come to feel about the plight of one Richard Hussein Incognito.

Attorney Ted Wells has been appointed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to lead an independent investigation into the Dolphins workplace conduct as it relates to guard Richie Incognito and tackle Jonathan Martin.

Wells — who has represented politicians like Eliot Spitzer and Lewis “Scooter” Libby in court while defending corporations like Bank of America, Merck and Citigroup in huge class-action lawsuits — will prepare a report for the commissioner, who then will make the findings public.

Lawyers: the solution to, and cause of, all of life’s problems. Hey Goodell, ‘samatta, you lose my phone number? Ginger prick. Whatever, any excuse to not visit Florida is fine by me.

Before you object, I consider this matter entirely within my purview. Maybe you think that the NFL isn’t part of the entertainment industry, but maybe you think that a girl using her face as a twat mop isn’t part of gay. I beg to differ twice. Check out a televised football game–if you’re using violence and sex to sell beer and trucks, welcome to show biz.

Cinema Incognito. So back to our freedom fighter. Incognito, it would appear, took away an important lesson from the movie 42. Namely, a hero can’t overcome obstacles if there are no obstacles to overcome. Would we even remember Jackie Robinson if he had been warmly greeted by his fellow players? Without the crucial intervention of an attentive bus driver, wouldn’t Rosa Parks have been just another nameless commuter? So Richie didn’t just call Jonathan Martin a “half-N1663r,” he made him a half-legend. There needs to be a film about Martin, and based on Incognito’s math, the title should be 21.

6. My So-Called Media. I used to get all the publicity I needed by writing my name in Sharpie above a D-girl’s cooter, but it’s the future now, so Twitter. Look for “@buttockus“. I’m going to set the Internet on fire–meaning, I’m going to burn down cyberspace if I don’t get some traction soon.