“Thus with a kiss I die,” wrote William Shakespeare in Romeo & Juliet, and thus echoed a Los Angeles decide as we speak over the alleged sexual abuse and negligence lawsuit from the celebs of Franco Zeffirelli Oscar-nominated 1968 adaptation of the doomed lovers play.
Stating that the $100 million in damages motion in opposition to Paramount Pictures from Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting incorporates a “gross mischaracterization” of the bed room scenes in query from the movie and citing the First Amendment, Judge Alison Mackenzie put forth a tentative ruling to dismiss the case.
“Defendant’s special motion to strike Plaintiffs’ entire Complaint …is GRANTED as each cause of action asserted therein arises from protected activity and Plaintiffs have failed to show a probability of success on the merits of those claims,” she wrote Thursday of Paramount’s (profitable) try to have the matter tossed beneath California’s anti-SLAPP legal guidelines.
Simultaneously, making quick work of the notion that the scenes from the Best Picture nominee are baby pornography, because the late December 2022-filed declare insisted, the decide added in strict phrases:
Here, Defendant has not conceded that any of its conduct was unlawful, nor have Plaintiffs conclusively demonstrated the alleged conduct is unlawful as a matter of legislation. Indeed, Plaintiffs themselves acknowledge that depictions of bare minors will solely represent unlawful baby pornography if they’re “sufficiently sexually suggestive.” Plaintiffs haven’t put forth any authority displaying the movie right here will be deemed to be sufficiently sexually suggestive as a matter of legislation to be held to be conclusively unlawful. Plaintiffs’ argument on the topic is restricted to cherry-picked language from federal and state statutes with out providing any authority concerning the interpretation or software of these statutory provisions to purported works of creative advantage, such because the award-winning movie at concern right here.
So, except Judge Mackenzie has a whole change of coronary heart (don’t snigger, it does occur), the DTLA listening to this morning must be the tip of this matter. Hussey and Whiting’s lawyer Solomon Gresen could also be contemplating an enchantment, I hear.
Reps for Paramount didn’t response to request for remark from Deadline on as we speak’s tentative ruling. If we hear again from the studio we’ll replace this publish.
Now of their 70s, Hussey and Whiting alleged that Zeffirelli violated their consent by filming them nude with out their data. Hussey and Whiting had been 15 and 16 years outdated when Romeo & Juliet was shot. Estimating that the movie has revamped $500 million since its pre-Summer of Love launch, the duo sought $100 million in damages
The claims had been 180° from what Hussey mentioned in 2018 when she spoke of the nudity within the movie. Back then, plugging a brand new memoir, the actress advised Fox News that the nudity “wasn’t that big of a deal.”
The nudity was actually an enormous deal of a form when Romeo & Juliet got here out in March 1968. Nominated for 4 Academy Awards together with Best Picture and Best Director, the controversial image received Best Cinematography and Costume Design Oscars. Both Whiting and Hussey additionally received Golden Globes for his or her performances.
Having confronted claims of sexual harassment and sexual assault up to now, Zeffirelli was unable to response to Hussey and Whiting’s accusations – as he died in 2019.
However, the filmmaker’s son Pippo Zeffirelli did reply to Hussey and Whiting’s allegations
“It is embarrassing to hear that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who owe their notoriety essentially to this film wake up to declare that they have suffered an abuse that has caused them years of anxiety and emotional discomfort,” he mentioned in January 2023.
Reps for Hussey and Whiting didn’t reply to request for remark as we speak.
Perhaps it’s best left to the Bard: “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”