Music Producer Files Lawsuit Over ‘Straight Outta Compton’


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Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E and Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller in “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON” a film directed by F. Gary Gray.Credit Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures

LOS ANGELES — Interviewed in May, the music executive Gerald E. Heller said he would keep a close eye on the film “Straight Outta Compton” to see “how I’m portrayed, and where I’m going to go from there.”

On Friday, Mr. Heller’s meaning became clear when he filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against NBC Universal and more than a dozen other defendants associated with “Straight Outta Compton.”

Mr. Heller’s complaint asks for at least $35 million in actual damages and $75 million in punitive damages. It says the biopic, about the rap group N.W.A., defames him with an uncomplimentary portrayal of his role in managing band members and Ruthless Records, which recorded the group in the late 1980s. The movie also violates his non-disparagement agreement with one of the film’s producers and an oral contract under which he helped with early drafts of the movie, the suit says.

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Jerry Heller, the former manager of N.W.A., filed a defamation lawsuit on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 against rappers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre and NBCUniversal, alleging the film “Straight Outta Compton” portrayed him as a villain and has done lasting damage to his reputation.Credit Jim Cooper/Associated Press

A spokeswoman for NBC Universal’s Universal Pictures unit, which released “Straight Outta Compton,” declined to comment.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, the film has taken in nearly $200 million worldwide. In it, Mr. Heller is played by Paul Giamatti. In his suit, Mr. Heller said he was never consented to the portrayal, and was not compensated. He also objected to the depiction of him as “the ‘bad guy’ in the movie who is solely responsible for the demise of N.W.A.”

In June, Universal and others were sued by the family of Terry Carter, who was killed in January in Compton near the set of a video promoting the film. The music entrepreneur Marion Knight, known as Suge, is expected to stand trial on charges of murder and attempted murder in the death of Mr. Carter and the injury of an associate who was working on the video.

Mr. Knight, who was also portrayed in the film without payment, had demanded compensation from its producers, but has not filed suit.



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