Scoop: Sean Penn sues Lee Daniels for defamation

23 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Sean Penn Files $10 Million Defamation Lawsuit Against Empire Creator Lee Daniels Over Terrence Howard Remark.

New York — Sean Penn on Tuesday filed a $10m defamation lawsuit against Empire co-creator Lee Daniels over comments Daniels made comparing him to the show’s star Terrence Howard, who’s been repeatedly accused of domestic violence. Daniels’ comments appeared online about a week ago in the entertainment publication The Hollywood Reporter in a story about the upcoming season of the popular Fox television show. “That poor boy (Terrence) ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some … demon,” Daniels said in the article. “That’s a sign of time, of race, of where we are right now in America.” Penn’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan civil court, says Daniels’ statements were egregious and injured Penn’s credibility and reputation personally, professionally and in his philanthropic activities. Howard recently admitted to hitting his first wife in a controversial Rolling Stone interview, and Daniels defended the Empire star in a subsequent Hollywood Reporter profile.

Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.” The legal complaint also cites Howard’s admission to physically abusing women or treating them with violence. “Daniels has falsely asserted and/or implied that Penn is guilty of ongoing, continuous violence against women,” it reads. Penn has won two best actor Oscars, for “Mystic River” and “Milk.” He has made a major humanitarian push in Haiti after it was devastated by an earthquake, co-founding the J/P Haitian Relief Organization.

The suit calls Daniels’ statements “egregious,” saying the Oscar-nominated director behind The Butler and Precious “seems to condone Howard’s reported misconduct.” Penn’s lawsuit also claims that Daniels’ defense of Howard “is apparently part of a misguided campaign to profit and further bolster and brand his show Empire.” Most unsettling to Penn, however, was that Daniels supposedly “falsely equates Penn with Howard.” The suit reads: “Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.” He beat a man he thought was trying to kiss Madonna in a nightclub, and he admitted driving recklessly and punching an extra on the set of the movie “Colors.” Daniels is the Oscar-nominated filmmaker of “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” ”The Paperboy” and “The Butler.” The new season of “Empire,” which he created with Danny Strong, starts Wednesday. Howard testified about the 2001 incident in Pennsylvania and said he drove to his ex-wife’s house after an argument and “kicked down the door and smacked her.” He said it was the “only time I’ve struck a woman” when it wasn’t self-defense. A judge in August overturned a Howard-Ghent divorce settlement that entitled her to a portion of his “Empire” earnings after finding she had coerced him into signing it or facing leaks of embarrassing information about him.

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