I have not seen a second of "Wolf of Wall Street," but I know that it describes allegedly true events that occurred at the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont and features a character called Nicky "Rugrat" Koskoff, a lawyer who wears a toupee. Said toupee is referred to as a "piece of shit hairpiece" in this film. Another character named Donnie Azoff discusses the toupee, stating "Fucking Rugrat that wig-wearing faggot I can't believe that fucking guy. I want to kill him."
Rugrat "is portrayed as a criminal, drug user, degenerate, depraved, and/or devoid of any morality or ethics." This is not a quote from the movie. It's a quote from the complaint filed by Andrew Greene against Paramount Pictures and various other defendants in the Eastern District of New York. Mr. Greene saw the movie and apparently believes that the Rugrat character is based on him ... because he went to law school, he worked at Stratton Oakmont, and he frequently wears a toupee. Seriously, he does! Here's paragraph 27 from the complaint:
Mr. Greene was so offended by the Rugrat character that he sued (natch) ... for $25 million. His causes of action? Violation of Sections 50 and 51 of the NY Civil Rights Law; violation of his common law right to privacy; violation of his common law property right to the commercial use of his image; libel per se with malice; and libel per se with negligence.
I'm sure you're saying to yourself "E.D.N.Y? That must be a typo." But no! This does indeed seem like a case well suited to S.D.N.Y., given its long standing history as a premiere venue for commercial litigation, as opposed to E.D.N.Y., given its long standing history as a premiere venue for organized crime prosecution. According to the complaint, Mr. Greene lives in Huntington Station, NY, hometown to zwoman and FOGTB FD (aka FuhDuh, aka Elmer FuhDuh) and home of Walt Whitman High School, alma mater of zwoman, FD, and all the characters from The Wonder Years, hence the E.D.N.Y. venue.
Winnie Cooper y'all! And Paul Pfeiffer ... former roommate of FD and me! Throw in TR and we have a suite reunion!
I don't know if Mr. Greene will win, but Paramount filed a motion to dismiss and it's pretty interesting. As an initial matter, it notes that NY does not recognize a common law right to privacy or publicity. Mr. Greene's complaint notes that he recently passed the NY bar exam; I guess he didn't pay attention to this portion of the BarBri review.
Paramount's motion also notes that the book upon which the film is based (1) portrays Mr. Greene pejoratively and (2) has another character who wears a toupee. It asserts that the Rugrat character is a composite of these two wig-wearing men, so the movie does not misappropriate Mr. Greene's likeness. And to the extent that there are similarities between Mr. Greene and Rugrat, Mr. Greene really did engage in some shystey shit. For example, he was found "personally liable for $2.18 million in compensatory and punitive damages stemming from securities fraud (the same activities depicted in the Film)." The truth is a defense against libel. The book also calls Mr. Greene a "shyster lawyer" and a "toupeed motherfucker" with "the worst toupee this side of the Iron Curtain." And it describes' Mr. Greene's participation in a criminal conspiracy to conceal his friend's illegal ownership of shares of Steve Madden. (Parenthetically, who invests in Steve Madden? How many slinky shoes can they sell?). The book also says that Mr. Greene went to "some Mickey Mouse law school in Southern California--earning a diploma that held about as much legal weight as you'd receive from a Cracker Jack box." And it describes his penchant for smoking pot.
Paramount also notes that Mr. Greene's name and image are not used in the film, which they assert defeats his section 50 and 51 claims. And they note that this story is newsworthy because it really happened. Paramount says that newsworthy stories are protected by the First Amendment.
So it appears that by filing suit, Mr. Greene inadvertently reminded everyone of his acts of securities fraud and participation in a conspiracy, drew attention to his subpar legal education, highlighted his love of pot, and betrayed his general misunderstanding of his common law rights in New York. All because some movie involves a character who does not share his name but wears a terrible hairpiece. Because he frequently wears a terrible hairpiece. Or at least he did "[a]t all times relevant hereto." Which everyone knows because he admitted it in his complaint. In which he seeks $25 million for being "portrayed as a criminal, drug user, degenerate, depraved, and/or devoid of any morality or ethics."