When it comes to the ongoing legal battle between late author Harper Lee’s estate and Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming Broadway adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird, no one is leaving any drama on the stage. Unless, of course, that stage is in a federal courtroom. The New York Times reports that producer Scott Rudin filed a countersuit against Lee’s estate Monday in response to a lawsuit filed in Alabama federal court back in March. In the Alabama suit, the estate claims Sorkin’s stage version is too different from the novel on which it’s based, specifically his version of Atticus Finch.
As Sorkin explained to Vulture back in September, his version of the beloved small-town lawyer undergoes a transformation over the course of the play, growing from a character who doubts the extent of racism in 1930s Alabama into the noble attorney you know and love. Tonja B. Carter, the executor of Lee’s estate, alleges the change violates Sorkin’s 2015 agreement with Lee permitting the play be staged in the first place.
Rudin, as you can imagine, very much disagrees, especially with the idea that Carter should play a role in the content of Mockingbird the play. “The Agreement did not give Ms. Lee approval rights over the script of the Play, much less did it give her a right to purport to edit individual lines of dialogue,” the lawsuit says. “It certainly did not give such rights to Ms. Carter, who is not an author, editor, literary agent or critic, and has no known expertise whatsoever in theater or writing.” In an interview with the Times, Rudin suggests staging a one-time version of the play in a courtroom to prove to a jury the play is true to the essence of To Kill a Mockingbird. And you just know tickets for it are going to be outrageous.