Thursday, April 28, 2011

Producers Can Sue Lil Wayne For Refusing to Promote Documentary

Back in 2009, Digerati Holdings released the critically-acclaimed documentary film "The Carter" based on the life and times of rapper Lil Wayne. The all-access, no-holds-bar documentary, which the rapper agreed to, was shot from 2007 to 2008. It showed Wayne's grinding work ethic (he records almost constantly and wherever he can -- in the studio, in his hotel room, on the tour bus) often through a haze of marijuana smoke and his affinity for soda mixed with prescription cough syrup. Wayne claimed that Quincy Jones III (the film's producer) failed to give him approval of the final cut of the film, as was stipulated in the contract -- but the company said it did. Anyway, the rapper wanted to edit out parts of the film he deemed depicted him in a way that would hurt him in his drug and weapons case. So, shortly after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, Wayne sued for breach of contract and the producers countersued, claiming Wayne refused to do interviews to promote the film. On Tuesday, a California appellate court ruled that Lil Wayne is liable for refusing to do interviews and the producers can go ahead with their lawsuit. Producers claimed it had to rely on footage from Wayne's prior interviews and that the rapper's public complaints about the documentary prevented it from landing a distributor. Wayne tried to stop the countersuit with a motion under Califorinia's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law. The trial court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. Both sides appealed, but the Los Angeles-based appeals court upheld the decision.

Here's the judge's ruling.

Sidebar: When Lil Wayne sued to block distribution of the documentary, Quincy said he was stunned because Wayne "saw the film and liked it. Even in the declaration of the lawsuit, it says that he likes the movie -- so we're not sure if [the suit] is coming from him or that's someone else." The film was eventually released on DVD.

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