Aaron Sorkin’s ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ adaptation cleared for Broadway after legal battle ends
Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Broadway adaptation of “To Kill A Mockingbird” will see the light of day.
The producer has settled a legal dispute with the estate of author Harper Lee, both parties said Thursday, clearing the way for its debut later this year.
A pair of dueling lawsuits had threatened the future of the play.
The legal battle began in March, when Lee’s estate sued Rudinplay, the production company behind the new play. The estate claimed that the show deviated too much from Lee’s original story, a classic about racism and injustice in the small-town South.
Tonja Carter, the lawyer who represents Lee’s estate, said in court documents at the time that she objected to Sorkin’s portrayal of Atticus Finch, the heroic and principled lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of rape in 1930s Alabama.
That lawsuit cited an interview that Sorkin, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and creator of TV’s “The West Wing,” gave to Vulture about his depiction of the character.
Finch is at first “in denial” about racism in his community, but eventually “becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play,” Sorkin said. The Finch of the novel is morally unambiguous.
Lee, who signed off on the production in 2015, died less than a year later. According to Carter’s complaint, Lee — and later, the estate — had the right to review the script and have feedback “considered in good faith.”
In April, Rudinplay chief Scott Rudin countersued and asked for at least $10 million for breach of contract. Rudin even offered to put on a performance of the show for the court to show that it does not “impermissibly depart” from the essence of the book.
The terms of the settlement remain unclear. The statement from both parties sheds no light, except to say that the litigation had been “amicably settled.” Court documents also did not include details.
The play, which stars Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch, will open December 13 in New York.
CNNMoney (New York) First published May 10, 2018: 4:46 PM ET