Lee Daniels Fights Sean Penn’s Defamation Lawsuit by Quoting Jeff Spicoli

By
Daniels and Penn. Photo: Getty Images

Sean Penn's ongoing defamation lawsuit against Lee Daniels entered its silly phase on Tuesday, when Daniels quoted Jeff Spicoli, Penn's high-school stoner from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, in a court filing. The suit arose from comments Daniels made to The Hollywood Reporter, comparing Terrence Howard's long history of domestic violence to the long-standing rumors that Penn had abused ex-wife Madonna, an association the actor found defamatory. As Daniels's new filing argues, to claim that the Empire showrunner "wronged Penn by falsely comparing Penn to someone else is constitutionally (to quote Penn’s iconic movie character Spicoli) 'bogus' ... The First Amendment protects all comparisons, even comparisons to paragons of criminal and evil: Charles Manson and the Nazis." Penn's lawyer, in turn, called the reference "facile."

In an affidavit signed after Daniels's remarks, Madonna called the domestic-violence rumors "completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false." A Gawker investigation last year was unable to determine whether or not Penn had ever been arrested for abusing the singer.