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I was glad to see Senna on the Paste list. These other great docs are currently streaming on Netflix: Buck The Thin Blue Line Touching the Void The Oath
Somebody certainly can be defamed by fiction. However, after hearing from all these parties involved, it doesn't seem to be the case here - at all. In other words, I can't imagine that Mr. Wiesel would really have a leg to stand on legally. Defamation, from my understanding, takes the form of specific statements, intended to be perceived as factual. In fiction works that don't use real names - Law & Order - it is almost impossible to show defamation. In fiction that does use real names there is a small opening for a defamation charge to stick, but, once again, it has to deal with specific statements. But even if you have a fiction with real names and some specific statements you still have another hurdle in the mix - you must prove that the work is NOT CLEARLY demarcated as fiction. I'm sure there are people more versed in this than I am, but from this basic understanding I just don't see that (a.) a lawsuit would even have any teeth and (b.) that there even was any defamation.
From Ms. Margolin's comment it seems clear this was a case of a person exercising the power available to them to silence an artist. I hope we get to see her play in the near future and I trust we will. I'm with Aaron. As I said above, the fictionalizing of the relationships of actual, living people is not all that radical. In Boston this past year we have a seen an opera that about Sarah Palin's rise and a musical, (You're a Good Man, Scott Brown,) about the Senator's now famous campaign. Scott Brown actually attended the musical, which fictionalized not only him, but his wife. Of course, these are parodies. A few years ago we had a reading of Tony Kushner's play Only We Who Guard the Mystery Will Be Unhappy at the American Repertory Theatre. The play took some flak from conservatives because Laura Bush was a character in the play. You can read local conservative columnist Alex Beam's reaction: Talk radio was all abuzz about it. The ART continued with the reading. And I think people might be confusing my earlier reference to Nixon's Nixon. This is not to be confused with Frost/Nixon. Nixon's Nixon is a very popular play by Boston playwright Russell Lees that has been done around the world. The play is a dramatic imagining of that famous visit . Here's a Time's review:
Toggle Commented May 20, 2010 on Truth v. Fiction - UPDATE - 2nd UPDATE at Parabasis
You're right. It would depend on the fortitude of the individual theater's leadership. In this case - though I admit I am reading a lot between the lines - this was a case of Weisel asking a personal relation to not do the show and then the "legal action" was a cover for the friend. But, like I said, we'll see.
Toggle Commented May 19, 2010 on Truth v. Fiction - UPDATE - 2nd UPDATE at Parabasis
Although, the play very well could be done someplace else. Margolin's agent simply withdrew the play from Theater J, the leadership of which has the relationship with Weisel. I suspect we will see it as written sometime in the future. There have been lots of plays written about living celebrities in "fictionalized" situations: Nixon's Nixon and Matt and Ben are just two more high- profile examples.
Toggle Commented May 19, 2010 on Truth v. Fiction - UPDATE - 2nd UPDATE at Parabasis
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May 19, 2010