Friday, January 20, 2006

Cruise Control

This piece of sad news from The Register:
UK TV viewers will not get to see an episode of South Park which shows Nicole Kidman and fellow Scientologist John Travolta attempting to coax a fictional Tom Cruise character out of a closet, with Kidman saying: "Don't you think this has gone on long enough? It's time for you to come out of the closet. You're not fooling anyone."
Apparently the Cruise character in the show claims that he isn't in the closet, although he actually is. More on this, plus legal analysis (seriously!) by Julie Hilden over on Findlaw.
Interestingly, the episode itself indicates that its creators know well that they may be defaming Cruise, and they know of his litigious history. The joke disclaimer preceding the episode announces that "All characters and events on this show -- even those based on real persons -- are entirely fictional." At the end of the episode, the Cruise character threatens to bring a suit (not on the gay issue, but in defense of Scientology) "in England" -- which lacks a formal equivalent of the First Amendment. And all the credits at the end use the pseudonyms "John Smith" and "Jane Smith."
Hilden doesn't think Cruise would win in the face of a 1st Amendment defence, but it probably won't come to that. The episode will probably just disappear.

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