The last time I checked producers, directors and screenwriters were regularly engaging in the alleged theft of ideas. By “theft’ I mean they’ve routinely been influenced by (i.e., impressionistically borrowed from or vaguely ripped off) other films, TV series, plays, etc. Welcome to a business known for a rough-and-tumble approach to creativity.
One of the dominant Hollywood legends is that you can’t make it in this town without strong feral instincts. If you want to succeed, according to this belief, you have to be a wolf. Every so often you need to drive up to Mulholland Drive at midnight, stare at the stars and go “owwwwoooohhhh…whoo-whoo-whooooo!”
This morning Francesca Gregorini, 51 year-old director of 2013’s The Truth About Emanuel, filed a copyright infringement suit on Wednesday against M. Night Shyamalan and Apple, accusing them of “bastardizing her 2013 film and re-envisioning it through a male gaze,” according to a Variety account. The suit refers to Shyalaman’s Servant, although the writer is Tony Basgallop, who ironically is also 51.
I’ve never seen The Truth About Emanuel (has anyone?) but it’s a psychological thriller about a woman who forms a relationship with a doll after the death of her infant child. Shyamalan and Basgallop’s Servant is about a couple raising a doll after suffering the death of a baby.
Lawsuit quote: “If Servant showcases anything, it is the gender arrogance and inequity still infecting Hollywood (and apparently Cupertino). The result of this caricature of the male gaze is the utter bastardization of Ms. Gregorini’s work. It’s an apt metaphor for the real-life version of what could happen here: It takes only a few old guard Hollywood men, such as Mr. Shyamalan and Mr. Basgallop, and their new Silicon Valley partner Apple TV+, to negate the considerable achievements and life experiences of the women behind Emanuel, and to irredeemably tarnish their work.”
As noted, copyright infringement and the alleged stealing of original ideas is a common practice and an old beef. Gregorini is using the political jargon of the moment to enhance her case. What else?