November 28, 2011 1:28pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Is This the Strangest Michael Jackson-Related Lawsuit Ever?
The year is almost over, but it's not too late for a late contender for the most ridiculous lawsuit of 2011. This one comes at the cross section of Michael Jackson fandom and the sometimes conspiracy-breeding domain of law known as copyright. A man is suing MSNBC for airing an interview with Dr. Conrad Murray on the theory that it infringed his work-in-progress animation film.
Everett Watson filed the lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Texas, saying that he spent two years working on a film script that was to be titled, Murder of Michael Jackson: The Perfect Murder.
Sony wouldn't look at his script, citing a policy of not examining unsolicited submissions, but Watson allegedly found a law firm to take a look at it after handing over a $550 retainer fee and agreeing to pay $275 an hour. Unfortunately, paying the firm has convinced Watson that he has a "partial agreement with the firm to produce and market the film."
Earlier this month, MSNBC aired its interview with Murray after the physician was found guilty by a jury of involuntary manslaughter. The interview touched off a debate about "checkbook journalism" and led to a lawsuit from Murray's creditors attempting to gain money from Murray's participation.
Now comes Watson's error-prone, punctuation-happy complaint, which pretty much sums up all the most unfortunate reasons why Hollywood needs lawyers in this day and age:
"My script involves the death of Michael Jackson. The c.p.r. attempt. The transporting of Michael Jackson to the hospital! The discovery of the propofol! The quest to find out who gives Michael the propofol! It covers other suspects. It reveals Conrad Murray as a potential suspect without a clear motive then goes on to present a possible motive for the murder...Conrad Murray had no right to sell any story under the guise of A documentary to anyone. That story is copyrighted. There are so many elements in [the MSNBC special that are protected from reproduction by anyone without my consent it has to prevented from further broadcast or I will not be able to profit from my work."