Back on April 11, the Onion-esque parody site The News Nerd published a fake story about Patti LaBelle punching Aretha Franklin at "an R&B/Soul concert" on March 20. Franklin didn't appreciate the clunky dose of internet humor and posted a formal denial of the scuffle on April 15.
Apparently, that wasn't enough, as the Detroit News announced yesterday Franklin is filing a $10 million lawsuit against The News Nerd.
Said Franklin through her publicist Gwendolyn Quinn, "The stories were not presented as satire or humor. It was presented as a serious news story intended to depict me in a slanderous and derogatory way -- defamation of character."
A disclaimer at the bottom of The News Nerd website does announce that the stories are "purely satirical" and "for entertainment purposes only."
The parody story claimed that LaBelle was arrested for assault and battery after attacking Franklin with “a Mayweather style right and left." The fictional squabble was apparently sparked when Franklin repeatedly "threw epic shade" at LaBelle, shunning her at public events.
The Detroit News also points out that the story's byline has been changed to "The News Nerd Staff" (from its original credited writer Kato Leonard) and that the text has been altered as well.
Franklin initially posted the following statement on April 15:
"I've never heard anything crazier—regarding myself and Patti allegedly fighting on March 20, in Atlanta. On March 20, I was in New York City readying for my birthday patty (Sorry. LOL. Laughing at my typo error). I meant PARTY, which we all had one fabulous time. Patti and I are cool and we always have been. I enjoyed her at the White House. Classic Patti."
The News Nerd has also written stories about Rick Ross collaborating with Dairy Queen on a Maybach Music-themed Blizzard and Taylor Swift having a medical condition that makes her afraid of black men. Could other litigious artists be getting ideas?
Franklin's reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.