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EXCLUSIVE: A filmmaker and former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives is suing HBO and Showtime after he tuned in to see his movie played on the pay cablers and instead was treated to soft-core pornography.
James L. Mann “Bubba” Cromer Jr., who served as a South Carolina legislator in the 1990s and is currently the elected “Reading Clerk,” made a comedy in 2008 called “The Hills Have Thighs” and hired an agent to increase the film’s profile. Earlier this month, he saw an ad saying “Thighs” would be shown at 1:30 a.m. on Showtime Networks’ the Movie Channel (it also aired on HBO’s Cinemax channel). Cromer was so excited that he called all his friends, including some at the South Carolina House of Representatives, and told them to tune in. He also used Twitter and Facebook to get the word out.
Alas, “to Plaintiff’s horror, the film that Showtime and HBO exhibited as his work was in fact soft-core pornography, with which Plaintiff had absolutely nothing to do,” according to the complaint, filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court. “Defendants’ wrongful representations that Plaintiff is involved in making and co-starred in a pornographic film have subjected Plaintiff to extreme scorn, humiliation and emotional distress.”
So how did “The Hills Have Thighs” (which, to our debauched ears, sounds like the standard porno-movie-title butchering of the recent remake of the horror classic “The Hills Have Eyes”) get promoted as Cromer’s film but end up as a late-night soft-core porn?
Cromer’s father, a South Carolina lawyer, allegedly fired off cease-and-desist letters to Showtime and HBO to find out. He now says he’s received no response, and “The Hills Have Thighs” continues to be promoted using Cromer’s name and the description of his film.
“The conduct of Showtime and HBO in linking Mr. Cromer’s name and reputation to soft-core pornography has been personally and professionally devastating to him,” Cromer’s lawyer, Patricia Millett at Santa Monica’s Kinsella Weitzman, tells us. “He has been flooded with correspondence, including from members of the South Carolina House of Representatives who elected him as Reading Clerk, expressing outrage and disappointment in what they believe to be his behavior. The lawsuit is intended to vindicate Mr. Cromer’s good name and let everyone know that his films are not pornographic.”
Sounds like a major mix-up to us. We put calls in to Showtime and HBO for comment and will update with a response. (UPDATE: Showtime declines to comment; HBO says “Cinemax is currently airing the film ‘The Hills Have Thighs’ directed by Salvadore Ross, licensed from All Channel Films. On the channel, any reference to a film by that name was to this film.”)
The complaint, filed by Dale Kinsella and Patricial Millett at Santa Monica’s Kinsella Weitzman firm, alleges causes of action for defamation, violation of the Lanham Act, violation of rights of publicity, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Here’s a trailer for Cromer’s actual film.
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