Vibe journalist Kevin Powell filed a federal lawsuit again Lionsgate, Morgan Creek and the various producers and writers of the film “All Eyez on Me” for copyright infringement.
Powell explains in the suit that in his articles about the late, slain rapper, Tupac Shakur, he had created a “made-up character” to help tell the stories about the life of the dead rapper. That character, with the same name appears in the movie “All Eyez on Me.”
“Mostly A Hit”
The movie was mostly a hit with the fans, however its authenticity has been questioned by Tupac’s friends and various Hip-hop stars.
The journalist explains in the suit, that was filed in New York, that the movie showed “fictional characters and re-worked narratives.” He goes on to say “While some of the content in these articles was factual, some portions of the article were changed or embellished.”
The movie relies heavily on a series of interviews that Powell conducted with the late rapper back when he was in jail for sexual assault charges. It was a main feature of Vibe magazine in the 1990’s and it included exclusives such as Tupac’s jailhouse confession.
The plaintiff, who claims that the most significant parts of the movie are based on his interviews, he has asked the judge to remove the film from cinemas and hopes for compensation.
The movie, released last week, has made more than $32 million dollars in the US.
The suit explains that Powell has to change details and leave information out in order to protect the artist. One of such changes was a character he called “Nigel” which was a pseudonym for a real man called Haitian Jack.
“The name and character of ‘Nigel’ in the Original Work was specifically created by the plaintiff without the authority or encouragement of Tupac Shakur.”
The complaint continues, “This made-up character of Nigel was the embellishment of a real-life character that was central to the narrative in plaintiff’s articles.”
It seems that a large bulk of the portrays and is based on the jailhouse interviews which Powell conducted. The interviewer appears in the movie, but doesn’t have a name.
Tupac’s murder, like that of Christopher Wallace, a.k.a Notorious B.I.G. still remains unsolved. The movie aimed to tell the story of the rise and fall of the famed rapper and actor.
When the production companies had announced the making of the film, Morgan Creek fell into a legal battle with Tupac’s mother, Afeni, as she held the creative rights to her son’s work. Eventually both sides settled and she allowed them to use her son’s music. She died before the release of the film in 2016.
John Singleton who had worked with the rapper before in the urban romance “Poetic Justice” where he starred alongside Janet Jackson, was one of the directors on the project, but like the director before him, he backed out claiming that the producers didn’t respect Shakur’s legacy.
Adding to the controversy, Morgan Creek was again sued but their co-producers for not engaging them in approval of lead actors, budgets and production schedules.
Critics attacked the film. The Times’ review said that the screenwriting was “lazy.” Jada Pinkett Smith, who was the rapper’s childhood friend said that their portrayal of their friendship was “deeply hurtful.”