Ronee Blakley Claims Screenwriter Defamed Her Via Henry James Movie
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Actress-singer Ronee Blakley sued the father of her daughter for $3 million, claiming he defamed her by portraying her as a bad mother in his screenplay for the contemporary retelling of the Henry James novel "What Maisie Knew."
Blakley, 68, sued "What Maisie Knew" screenwriter Carroll Cartwright in Superior Court.
She claims the film borrows heavily from their real-life custody battle for Cartwright's daughter, Sarah.
"This is a classic 'libel in fiction' lawsuit arising out of the film, 'What Maisie Knew,' ('film') which is about a young girl whose unmarried parents are engaged in a bitter custody battle for her," the 15-page lawsuit states. "The mother character, Susanna, is a musician and singer who is a monstrously bad mother. Indeed, in press interviews, Julianne Moore, who plays Susanna, has described her character as an abusive mother who neglects her child."
Blakley claims that Susanna is a "thinly disguised portrait" that stems from the animus Cartwright felt toward her after their legal battles.
"The primary thrust of this lawsuit is therefore very simple: Cartwright wrote the screenplay to further his own feelings of hatred for Blakley by maliciously and falsely portraying her as a selfish and uncaring mother, when in fact she was a devoted and loving parent," the complaint states.
Blakley claims she was with Cartwright from 1982 until 1987 and gave birth to their daughter in 1988. What followed was a 10-year battle for custody of Sarah, whom Blakley claims Cartwright "initially wanted nothing to do with."
Blakley claims that Cartwright has acknowledged in interviews that he drew on his experiences during the court battles in writing the film.
Blakely seek punitive damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Blakley was married to filmmaker Wim Wenders for three years, before they ended their marriage in 1981. She was in the ensemble cast of Robert Altman's "Nashville" and also appeared in "Nightmare on Elm St."
She is represented by Alexander Rufus-Issacs of Beverly Hills.