You know that warning tacked onto the ending of a movie’s credits, where it’s stated in legal mumbo jumbo that any likenesses to persons living or deceased are purely coincidental? This is a way for a filmmaker to cover his or her own rear (legally speaking) when a person resembling an on-screen character comes calling to say, "Hey, that’s me. I’m angry. I’m gonna sue!"
Andrew Greene either never read that fine print, or he assumes it doesn’t apply to him. Greene is an attorney who has filed a lawsuit, according to CNN, demanding that Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street be removed from theaters. Once upon a time, Greene worked alongside Jordan Belfort at the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. Now that Wolf is in theaters, Greene says that the way that he is portrayed on screen is unacceptable, and he’s seeking "in excess of" $25 million in damages. He also wants the movie pulled from theaters.
Greene states in his suit that it’s obvious the character of Nicky "Rugrat" Koskoff, played by P.J. Byrne, is supposed to be him.
Koskoff, in the film, shaves a woman’s head, gets arrested with a Swiss banker, and basically behaves like "like "a criminal, drug user, degenerate [who is] depraved and/or devoid of any morality or ethics." The suit claims:
"Mr. Greene's character is shown doing cocaine on company premises during business hours in another scene. The motion picture included other scenes depicting Mr. Greene's character in a reckless and depraved manner, including more than one scene wherein his character is depicted having sexual relations with a prostitute. … Mr. Greene will be permanently linked to the crimes and loathsome behavior portrayed by his likeness in the motion picture, despite never having been interviewed, questioned, charged, imprisoned, or even arrested for the illicit and despicable behavior shown in the motion picture."
Except it’s a movie, but there’s a grey area here, and Greene’s giving it his best legal shot at exploiting the situation. Scorsese’s Wolf is based on Belfort’s memoirs. Belfort likely wrote about Greene. Is that where the comparison ends? That will be up to the courts to decide. Is he really this guy?
Or did screenwriter Terence Winter embellish the facts to better his drama?
Does he have a case? THR likens Greene’s lawsuit to one filed by a former Iraqi soldier who claimed to be the inspiration behind the The Hurt Locker. "Similarly," the trade notes, "that lawsuit also came just days before the Academy Awards and alleged publicity rights violations and defamation. The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge on First Amendment grounds and is now pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."
Paramount, wisely, has declined comment.