'To Kill a Mockingbird' author's estate sues over play

This image released by Hulu shows Jeff Daniels in a scene from

'To Kill a Mockingbird' author's estate sues over play

The estate of Harper Lee has filed a lawsuit against the producers of a highly-anticipated Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird, arguing that the Aaron Sorkin's script "departs from the spirit of the novel".

The producer's lawyer also argued that the play "does not derogate or depart from the spirit of the novel, nor alter the fundamental natures of the characters in the novel".

Aaron Sorkin opened up about his decision to portray Finch as such in an interview last fall, telling Vulture, "As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's". The estate claims that it deviates too much from the original story.

The lawsuit claims Lee's protagonist Atticus Finch, and other characters, have been wrongly altered.

The script also "did not present a fair depiction of 1930s small-town Alabama" by tying it to today's social climate, according to the suit. "Lee's death", Rudin said.

"I can't and won't present a play that feels like it was written in the year the book was written in terms of its racial politics: It wouldn't be of interest", he told the Times. "The world has changed since then".

Filed against the theater company of NY 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". According to Carter, Finch doesn't come off to be the inclusive hero Lee wrote him as. Carter initially said she was "stunned" when she found the manuscript in the summer of 2014, but a later New York Times report indicated that the discovery may have been made back in 2011 - further clouding the already-complicated saga of the book's release. "He becomes an apologist for these people".

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Lee's estate has pushed back strongly against the changes.

Andrew Nurnberg, literary agent to Lee's estate, in September 2017 expressed his concerns to Rudin that any change to the characters must "not contradict the author's image of them", the filing states. Instead of solving Carter's concerns, the new script "exacerbated" them, the suit says.

Rudinplay, through accounting firm Citrin Cooperman, did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on Carter's lawsuit.

In response, an attorney for Rudin's company, Rudinplay Inc, said in a letter to the estate that the company - and not the estate - had final say over the script, according to the lawsuit.

"This is, unfortunately, simply another such lawsuit, the latest of many, and we believe that it is without merit", he said in a statement to the Times. The suit is just the latest drama in a series of controversial developments related to Lee's work in the years just before and after her death.

Lawyer Tonja Carter, who was named representative of Lee's estate after the author died in February 2016, is the lone plaintiff in the case filed Tuesday in Mobile, Ala., federal court by lead attorney Matthew Lembke of Bradley Arant.

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