Did producers of the hugely-successful NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton”, fail to get buy-in, and ultimately consent for use of likeness from Jerry Heller? That’s just what Heller is claiming in a $110 million lawsuit, filed days ago. Heller further claims that not only was his work stolen, but his reputation has been tarnished by the film, which was directed by F. Gary Gray. produced by Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Gray; among others, and stars Corey Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Aldis Hodge, Jason Mitchell, and Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller.
Heller goes on to rebut claims that he was responsible for the demise of NWA, and disputed specific scenes of the film, such as the point when a check was withheld from rapper Ice Cube in the amount of $75,000. Those included in the lawsuit include Director F. Gary Gray, Legendary Pictures, Comptown Records, NBCUniversal, and the lead stars of the film.
In all, Heller is claiming defamation of character, copyright infringement, tortious interference, misappropriation of likeness, and breach of a settlement agreement, which refers to a settlement made in 1999 between Heller and those connected with Eazy-E, barring any disparaging statements be made directly or indirectly.
Released August 14, 2015 with a production budget of $28 million, Straight Outta Compton has grossed well over 161,000,000 million domestically and nearly $200,000,000 million to date. The film grossed $60,200,180 million in its opening weekend. It remained in theaters for 10 weeks.
Jerry Heller, whose real name is Gerald E. Heller, was responsible for launching the group to superstardom in the late eighties. As a manager, he has represented many groups and artists throughout his career, including Ike & Tina Turner, The Four Tops, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye. As co-founder of Ruthless Records, he was also responsible for signing and/or managing the likes of Above the Law, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony,
Heller is being represented by Michael R. Shapiro.