Lifetime Television scored an enormous win over a lawsuit that claimed a 2013 film was too fictionalized. A decide dominated that the film “Romeo Killer” was “broadly correct” and made it clear that components of the film have been dramatizations.
The Lawsuit Claimed the Biopic, ‘Romeo Killer,’ Was Too Fictionalized
Lifetime Television’s airing of “Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story” was halted in 2013 by a New York decide when Christopher Porco claimed the film was overly fictionalized, The Hollywood Reporter reported. An emergency enchantment lifted the injunction, however a dismissal was then overturned by the New York appeals court docket in 2017. The court docket decided that it was doable for Porco to show the movie nonetheless had “an excessive amount of fictionalization” to qualify as newsworthy.
Justice Molly Reynolds Fitzgerald later dominated in Lifetime’s favor in late June 2021. You can learn the complete opinion right here.
Porco had been convicted of murdering his father and trying to homicide his mom, Joan Porco. The film depicted these occasions together with the trial. According to the court docket opinion, Lifetime had argued that First Amendment rights protected them and so they might make the film with out Porco’s permission as a result of it was newsworthy. In New York, newsworthy is a broad terminology making use of not simply to the occasions themselves which can be of public curiosity, however to social traits or different topics of public curiosity.
Fitzgerald defined that with a view to win, Porco should show that the film was, primarily, so fictitious that it amounted to an “all-pervasive use of imaginary incidents.” The newsworthy exception is not met if the content material is “considerably fictionalized” and would not serve a public curiosity.
The lawsuit argued that Lifetime’s film depicted the plaintiffs in a means that was “materially and considerably fictitious,” whereas claiming that it was an correct depiction. To decide if Lifetime was protected, the court docket reviewed the complete film together with proof of the underlying info. Ultimately, the court docket determined that Lifetime was upfront in regards to the film being dramatized, and the general story was nonetheless largely based mostly on info that have been within the public’s curiosity. So the court docket present in Lifetime’s favor.
A overview of these supplies confirms that the movie is a dramatization that at occasions departed from precise occasions, together with by recreating dialogue and scenes, utilizing methods equivalent to flashbacks and staged interviews, giving fictional names to some people and changing others altogether with composite characters. The movie nonetheless presents a broadly correct depiction of the crime, the following felony investigation and the trial which can be issues of public curiosity.
More importantly, the movie makes no[*5] effort to current itself as unalloyed fact or declare that its depiction of plaintiffs was fully correct, as a substitute alerting the viewer on the outset that it’s only “[b]ased on a real story” and reiterating on the finish that it’s “a dramatization” by which “some names have been modified, some characters are composites and sure different characters and occasions have been fictionalized.” In our view, the foregoing happy defendant’s preliminary burden of displaying that the movie addressed issues of public curiosity via a mix of truth and fiction that was readily acknowledged, didn’t mislead viewers into believing that its associated depictions of plaintiffs was true and was not, in consequence, “so contaminated with fiction, dramatization or embellishment that it can’t be stated to satisfy the aim of the newsworthiness exception.”
The decide went on to notice that plaintiffs complained that some depictions have been inaccurate and even offensive to them. However, the decide stated the movie made it clear that it was a dramatization. In the top, the decide present in favor of Lifetime and that the film was not too fictionalized to be protected by New York’s “newsworthy” exception.