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The defamation lawsuit Paradise Square producer Garth Drabinsky filed against Actors’ Equity has been dismissed with prejudice.
In the lawsuit, filed in October 2022 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Drabinsky sued the union, claiming defamation, after it placed him on its “Do Not Work” list following his production of Paradise Square. Actors’ Equity, as well as other unions and workers on the production, have separately sued Drabinsky for what they claim is thousands of dollars in owed payments, wages and health contributions.
The musical Paradise Square ran on Broadway from March 15, 2022 through July 17 of that year.
Upon its closure, Drabinksy was placed on the “Do Not Work List,” which effectively bars him from working on Broadway or other professional productions, after company members spoke out about their experience on the production, alleging that the producer had “had withheld benefits and pay from many company members, and have created an unsafe, toxic and frequently hostile work environment.”
In the defamation suit, Drabinsky spoke out against that, as well as other incidents Actors’ Equity had allegedly raised concerning a racial slur and other charged language he is said to have made. “Drabinsky, more than any other producer in recent musical theatre history, has tackled the insidious issues of racism, prejudice and bigotry in America through the musicals he has produced for Broadway,” the producer’s lawsuit reads.
In the original suit, Drabinsky who also produced Show Boat and Ragtime, uses his work on these shows, which feature many Black castmembers, and his work on Paradise Square to fight back against the allegations. He alleged that the slur in question was used in reference to a lyric in Show Boat.
In the ruling Friday dismissing the suit, the judge found that Actors’ Equity acted in the self-interest of its members in responding to the complaints and placing Drabinsky on the “Do Not Work” list and therefore is not subject to the federal antitrust claims made in the suit.
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