LOS ANGELES (CN) – The movie “American Hustle” defamed science writer Paul Brodeur by falsely attributing pseudoscience to him in a scene, the former New Yorker staff writer claims in court.
Brodeur sued Columbia Pictures, Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures, on Thursday in Superior Court.
Brodeur, who joined the New Yorker staff in 1958, has written widely about environmental science, particularly about the dangers of asbestos and the depletion of the ozone layer.
In his lawsuit, Brodeur claims a major character in “American Hustle” mischaracterizes his work by claiming that he wrote in a magazine article that microwave cooking “takes all of the nutrition out of our food.”
Brodeur claims that he “publicly stated the opposite” as long ago as 1978.
He did deny it that year, in an interview with People Magazine.
“American Hustle,” released in December 2013, was loosely based on the Abscam scandal, in which seven members of Congress were convicted of corruption in the early 1980s.
“American Hustle” features Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld and Jennifer Lawrence as his wife, Rosalyn.
“The film has nothing to do with the environmental issues examined by Mr. Brodeur,” according to the lawsuit.
In the movie, a microwave oven explodes. The fictional Rosenfelds then have an argument about it.
Brodeur’s lawsuit cites the script:
“ROSALYN: You know, I read that it [the microwave oven] takes all the nutrition out of our food. It’s empty, just like your deals. Empty, empty.
“IRVING: That’s bullshit.
“ROSALYN: It’s not bullshit. I read it in an article. (She holds up a magazine.) Look, by Paul Brodeur.”
The lawsuit continues: “The film clearly shows that Rosalyn’s husband believes her comment.” He “spends at least ten seconds reading it – a very long time in a film,” after which, “(i)t is obvious that he accepts that the article contains Brodeur’s statement, as she has claimed”.
Brodeur says he has “never written an article or ever declared in any way that a microwave oven ‘takes all the nutrition out of our food.'”
The lawsuit claims that in an interview published by People Magazine on Jan. 30, 1978, Brodeur “stated the opposite,” replying to a question: “Is there any danger in eating food cooked by microwaves” by saying: “None that is known.”
People published the interview under the headline: “The Microwave Menace Is Zapping Us All, Warns Writer Paul Brodeur.”
The People article was a response to Brodeur’s 1977 book, “The Zapping of America: Microwaves, Their Deadly Risk, and the Coverup,” published by Norton.
It was an expanded version of a long article he wrote for The New Yorker, and claimed that Americans were being exposed to dangerous levels of microwave radiation, from radar and other defense uses, and possibly from microwave ovens.
The article, which is available online, shows that Brodeur’s lawsuit correctly characterizes the statements he made to People.
His lawsuit does not mention the book.
Brodeur claims that the movie damaged his reputation by “attributing that untenable statement to Mr. Brodeur,” and telling the movie audience that he “made a scientifically unsupportable statement.”
Brodeur seeks $1 million in damages for libel, defamation, slander and false light.
He is represented by Steven Kazan with Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood, of Oakland.
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