11
Nov/03

Verisimilitude As A Cause of Action


‘K Street’ is an HBO drama in which political consultants (and real-life husband and wife) James Carville and Mary Matalin play ‘slightly fictionalized’ versions of themselves.  The show trades on verisimilitude – Carville and Matalin interact with real politicians (playing themselves) and refer to real events that occured only weeks before air-date.  In the most widely reported ‘bit,’ Carville is hired to prep Governor Dean for a debate and feeds him a joke, a joke that Dean used in that debate in real life.  According to the NY Times, the taping of that episode of K Street was in fact the source of the joke (and the ‘dramatized’ debate prep was ‘real’ debate prep).

In a recent episode, Carville is seen talking to (an unseen and unheard) Matt Drudge over the phone and essentially accuses Drudge of libeling Matalin, by falsely claiming that she was the “CIA Operative” leak.  A screen shot of The Drudge Report is depicted.  Now, in real life, Drudge is reportedly contemplating legal action.

‘Pure’ news shows and ‘pure’ entertainment shows have differing types of protections against IP and Personality/Privacy/Libel claims.  This FindLaw column argues that by attempting to straddle the line between news and entertainment, K Street may have lost both sets of protection.

More commentary on K Street here.

 

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