Broadway producers countersue Harper Lee's estate

Broadway producers countersue Harper Lee's estate

The Broadway producers of an adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird are counter-suing the Harper Lee estate, which last month brought a suit against them arguing the script differed too much from Lee's original book.

According to the Guardian, Rudinplay has filed a $10m (£7m) countersuit and has offered to perform the play for judges to prove it is faithful to the book.

In the countersuit, the producers also argue that the estate’s lawsuit “has rendered it impossible for the play to premiere as scheduled … and unless this dispute is resolved in the immediate future, the play will be cancelled”. The lawsuit adds: “Investors are not willing to invest millions of dollars when a cloud exists”.

The play is set to premier on 13th December in New York.

The producers argue that Harper Lee estate representative Tonja B Carter does not have the authority to act on behalf of Lee’s estate.

“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 countersuit reads. “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 theatre or writing.”

Carter has previously attracted controversy for her dealings over Lee’s affairs, including her discovery of Lee's "surprise" second novel Go Set a Watchman.

The estate has claimed that some characters have been altered in the play, including lawyer Atticus Finch, and alleges the script does not present a fair depiction of small-town Alabama in the 1930s.

In the countersuit, the producers have offered to perform its adaptation at the courthouse with all cast members, including Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch, so that a judge can determine if the play departs from the spirit of the novel.