Former manager seeks $110 million in damages, alleging biopic didn’t ask permission to use name and likeness
Former N.W.A manager Jerry Heller is suing Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, the Eazy-E estate, Universal and other parties involved in the biopic Straight Outta Compton for what he feels is a unflattering portrayal of the Ruthless Records co-founder. Heller is seeking upwards of $110 million in his suit, claiming that he was made to play the “bad guy” and “a sleazy manager who took advantage of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube” in the hugely successful film, TMZ reports. Additionally, Heller says he never granted permission for filmmakers to use his name and likeness in the movie.
Paul Giamatti played Heller in the film. According to the lawsuit, some scenes that Heller especially took umbrage with were when his onscreen counterpart “withheld a $75k check from Ice Cube,” “fraudulently induced Dre and Cube to sign unfavorable contracts” and “enjoyed lobster brunches while the contracts were being signed.” Heller also claims that some elements of the plot – including a scene where Eazy-E is forced by Suge Knight to turn over his Death Row rights – were taken from Heller’s own Ruthless: A Memoir without permission.
Representatives for Universal, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube declined to comment. Heller and a rep for Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray, who was also named in the suit, did not immediately return requests for comment.
Heller is suing for $35 million in compensatory damages, $75 million in punitive damages plus all box office profits; Straight Outta Compton racked up nearly $200 million after its August 14th release, making it the most successful music biopic of all time. TMZ adds that Heller long planned on pursuing action against the film as he spent the film’s opening night at a screening where he sat in the front row with his legal team.
When Rolling Stone asked Ice Cube earlier this year what he thought Heller would think of the movie, he replied, “I don’t care.”
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