The estate of “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee is upset about an adaptation of the novel by Aaron Sorkin, and is taking the production to court.
The New York Times reports that the stage production is “one of the year’s most anticipated Broadway plays.”
“In a complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Alabama, the estate argued that Mr. Sorkin’s adaptation deviates too much from the novel, and violates a contract, between Ms. Lee and the producers, which stipulates that the characters and plot must remain faithful to the spirit of the book,” The Times reports.
“A chief dispute in the complaint is the assertion that Mr. Sorkin’s portrayal of the much beloved Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel,” the report adds.
The suit notes that Tonja B. Carter, an attorney who was appointed by Lee to run her estate, met with Scott Rudin, one of the producers of the play, in February to express what the suit calls “serious concerns about the script.”
“At times, the conversation was heated,” the lawsuit states, noting that the meeting ended without a resolution.
The Times adds: “The contract the parties signed states that ‘the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the Novel nor alter its characters.’ The Rudin team is arguing it does not, and that, while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.”
Rudin is quoted saying in an interview: “I can’t and won’t present a play that feels like it was written in the year the book was written in terms of its racial politics: It wouldn’t be of interest. The world has changed since then.”