Actor John Witherspoon and his wife have been hit with a lawsuit by a writer who claims the couple hijacked his script, and the move has caused him a great deal of depression.
Ronald Grant says he and Witherspoon’s wife, Angela, have been long time acquaintances and they agreed to make a short film based on a play he wrote based on Grant’s personal memoir which detailed sexual abuse and addiction, and chronicled “his rise from the housing projects of Manhattan to become the fashion editor of Essence Magazine.”
Grant claims they shot the film back in 2015 and he was supposed to have complete control of the project after covering production costs and stepping in as director after Angela went “absent for hours.”
The Blast has a breakdown on how the deal soured:
According to court documents, Grant is suing the 77-year-old actor and his wife over a film entitled “Curtsy, Mister.”
The suit accuses Angela of taking the footage and then refusing to let Grant see it or have any control over the final edit. He accuses her of entering the film into numerous festivals since being completed without his consent.
He states, “On or about November 16, 2016, Defendant Robinson-Witherspoon screened ‘Curtsy, Mister’ for the first time in New York. This was the first time Mr. Grant had been allowed to view ‘Curtsy, Mister.’ He was not permitted to participate in the editing of the film that was screened in New York, nor was he permitted to approve ‘Curtsy, Mister’ before the screening, in violation of the Agreement.”
At that point, he claims to have learned Angela “betrayed her promises and cut Mr. Grant out of the editing process.” He claims she hired her own editor and partnered with her husband’s production company, T Boyds Boy Productions.”
Grant says as a result of the situation he “continues to suffer bouts of depression by despair about Defendants’ sharing of intimate details of his life without his consent, his feelings of powerlessness to stop them, and the shame and embarrassment he has been caused. Mr. Grant’s depression has manifested in physical symptoms such as insomnia, extreme weight loss, and a struggle to remain sober. At times, Mr. Grant’s friends have approached him to comment on the film, assuming that Mr. Grant was involved in its production. Mr. Grant has been the subject of unkind and cruel comments about his childhood by viewers of the film.”
Grant is suing for an injunction against the couple from continuing to profit off his story and for unspecified damages.