Jerry Heller, former manager of N.W.A, is able to move to the next round in a defamation lawsuit over Universal's Straight Outta Compton, the celebrated biopic of the iconic rap act.
Not because he was framed as a "bad guy" in the film and not because of the scene where Dr. Dre accused him of stealing money. Nor because of the implication that he withheld a $75,000 check to Ice Cube and not because he was portrayed as inducing his clients to sign unfavorable deals. And forget the fact that Heller, portrayed by Paul Giamatti, was eating lobster lunches as N.W.A members suffered. The judge overseeing the lawsuit points to Heller's memoir and what he's admitted to doing and says the movie is allowed to portray these facts in "colorful and hyperbolic" terms.
But in finding that most of Heller's beef with Straight Outta Compton can't rise to defamation because of non-actionable opinions, what reasonable viewers would understand, and how the film treated public controversies, U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald finds one implication that's troubling enough to allow the lawsuit to proceed. Ironically, it deals with entertainment industry lawyers.