Harper Lee's Estate Suing Over Sorkin's View of Atticus

Broadway play is still set to open in December, however
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 15, 2018 10:40 AM CDT
In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo, Aaron Sorkin arrives at the Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
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(Newser) – A Broadway production of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is still set to open this year despite a lawsuit filed by the estate of the author, an attorney for the producer said. Jonathan Zavin, who represents Scott Rudin's Rudinplay Inc., said Thursday the adaptation is scheduled to go on stage in December in New York "to the best of my knowledge," per the AP. Lee's estate filed a federal lawsuit this week in Alabama over the play, arguing that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's script wrongly alters Atticus Finch and other characters from the book. The lawsuit, which includes a copy of a contract signed by Lee and dated about eight months before her death in February 2016, contends Sorkin's script violates the agreement in its portrayal of Finch, the noble attorney who represents a black man wrongly accused of rape in Mockingbird.

Filed against the theater company of New York producer Scott Rudin, the complaint cites an interview with the online publication Vulture in which Sorkin was quoted as saying the small-town lawyer would evolve from a racist apologist at the start of the show to become "Atticus Finch by the end of the play." Such a change during a play could fit with the character evolution shown between the Pulitzer Prize-winning Mockingbird and Lee's first draft of the novel, finally released in 2015 as Go Set a Watchman. But the lawsuit contends the script would violate the contact by changing Finch and other characters and adding still more people who aren't in the novel. It asks a judge to enforce a section of the agreement that states the play won't "depart in any manner from the spirit of the Novel nor alter its characters." (Lee's "strikingly opaque" will has been unveiled.)


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