2:19-cv-09492 (C.D. Cal. May 22, 2020)
Chelsea Dudley a/k/a Chanel West Coast
Comment by Charles Cronin
Sharon Stone… what a spoilsport. Having made her fortune and reputation often playing tawdry characters in movies, and posing for photos in risqué garb (if that), she objects (she sues!) when another publicity seeker goes after the same rewards using similar imagery. Stone want it both ways. She wants to keep the fame and material assets she garnered from relentless self-promotion and publicity mongering, but does not want any diminishment in personal privacy and insulation from public commentary, which is the price one must pay when one deliberately courts, and benefits from, the public’s attention and financial support.
The Complaint suggests that now that Stone is financially comfortable (perhaps less sellable in Hollywood given her age?) she would like to be known for her philanthropic work, although she does “selectively endorse… fashion accessories…” Stone claims that Defendant Chelsea Dudley’s hip-hop send up “Sharon Stoned” will mislead consumers into believing that Stone endorsed “cannabis paraphernalia” (“Stoned”) and that the verbal and visual allusions to Stone in Defendant’s recorded performance have deceived the public into thinking Stone sponsored or endorsed the Defendant’s song.
This doesn’t seem to be the case at all. The Defendant’s work is a grotesquely amusing send-up of Stone’s portrayal of a fictional character (not Stone herself) in the movie Basic Instinct. Stone wants to be associated with the character in the crudely sexual scene because it contributed to the financial largesse and attention the public awarded her. There is not the slightest chance the public would infer Stone’s endorsement of Defendant’s burlesque that evokes this scene — particularly given the patrician “philanthropist” mantle Stone has adopted.
The Defendant’s work brings to mind Mad Magazine‘s parodies of popular movies, like “Dr. Zhivago” in which the characters, and actors who performed them, are easily identifiable, but are placed in hilariously absurd situations. It would never occur to any reader of Mad that Julie Christie or Omar Sharif endorsed this send-up, or was in any way associated with its production. Having courted and obtained recognition and material benefit from the public, they also must abide the potential for public jest, on which these are conditioned.
This dispute held great promise for hilarity if tried in a court of law. Sadly that promise will never be realized as the Court dismissed the case late May 2020, the parties having settled. (As of May 27, 2020 the offending “Sharon Stoned” video was still readily accessible online… but for how much longer?)