NWA’s ex-manager Gerald Heller can proceed with his defamation lawsuit against Straight Outta Compton, after a judge ruled against its dismissal on Monday.
The movie, which ended the year as one of the top 10 highest-grossing films, depicts Heller (Paul Giamatti) as a manager who, while fighting for NWA’s creative independence, may have also taken slight advantage of their financial naïveté.
The real life Heller claims he wasn’t such a shady manager. Filed in October 2015, his lawsuit accuses several parties—Universal, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the movie’s director F. Gary Gray and Legendary Pictures Funding—of defamation, misappropriation of likeness and copyright infringement.
The defendants asked for the suit to be dismissed in February and filed an anti-SLAPP motion, describing the movie as “a docudrama chronicling a decade-long story from 1986 to 1996 of the pioneering rap record company.” A federal judge in L.A. denied the motion to dismiss.
Judge Michael Fitzgerald gave Heller’s lawyers until April 25 to file a second amended complaint in the matter. Heller’s lead attorney Michael Richard Shapiro thanked the court for its “diligence” in the increasingly complicated case.
Among the claims in his original complaint of October 30 last year, Heller said that he did not like the way he was depicted as a “sleazy manager” in the box office biopic of the legendary West Coast hip hop group.
In court papers, Straight Outta Compton’s legal team points to the movie’s disclaimer about it being a “dramatization” and also slams Heller’s “subjective interpretations of the Film.”
Image screengrab via YouTube/Universal