Brow Beat

Aaron Sorkin’s Play of To Kill a Mockingbird May Have Its First Run-Through in a Federal Courtroom

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 05:  Aaron Sorkin accepts the award for Best Screenwriter at AARP's 17th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 5, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
This whole production is out of order.
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Legal battles continue over the To Kill a Mockingbird Broadway play, as producer Scott Rudin filed a federal lawsuit against author Harper Lee’s estate on Monday. The producer is eager to get the Aaron Sorkin-penned adaptation to the public, despite protestations from Tonja B. Carter, executor of Lee’s estate. Carter filed a lawsuit against the production last month on the grounds that it offers an unfair interpretation of the novel’s patriarch, Atticus Finch. The play allegedly portrays Finch with a touch of moral ambiguity, rather than as the unwavering, principled hero from the novel.

Rudin filed the $10 million suit on the grounds that “investors are not willing to invest millions of dollars when a cloud exists.” Carter’s lawyer, Matthew H. Lembke, wrote the suit off as “full of wild and baseless allegations that seem only meant to distract from the real issue—whether Rudinplay has violated its written contractual promise that it would not alter the characters in Harper Lee’s classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Rudin is really ready to go the extra mile in this battle, and has even threatened to take his own production to court—literally. In a recent interview, he said he thought it could be prudent to have the play performed in court so that a jury could decide whether or not it honors the novel’s legacy. Rudin noted, “A play and a book are two different things. A book is meant to be read; a play is meant to be performed.”

Given that much of the novel’s plot takes place inside a courthouse during a black man’s rape trial, this could lead to some serious court-ception, starring Jeff Daniels as meta-lawyer Atticus Finch.* If this threatened courthouse production becomes a reality, we want the bootleg.

Correction, April 17, 2018: This article originally stated that Jeff Bridges would play Atticus Finch in the Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Jeff Daniels has been cast in the role.