Is the Facebook movie asking for litigation?

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Is the Facebook movie asking for litigation?

Mon Jul 20, 2009 @ 03:16PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Facebook069e200e551b141a08833-800wi The forthcoming movie about the founding of Facebook is becoming more intriguing by the second.

The movie is being written by Aaron Sorkin, produced by Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti for Columbia, and may be directed by "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" helmer David Fincher.

So the question is what Facebook story is being told. There are unconfirmed reports that the script will be based on a just-released book by Ben Mezrich called "The Accidental Billionaires," which according to a review in The New York Times this weekend, is largely based upon the account of early Facebook employee Eduardo Saverin. We can't confirm that Sorkin is using this book as source material, but if he is, the project could ruffle some feathers.

The controversy surrounding the founding of Facebook is well-chronicled, especially the lawsuit over whether Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the original Facebook code when he was a student at Harvard. Before that case was settled, embarrassing documents came out from Zuckerberg's past, and the litigation became quite nasty. According to CNet, those documents included revelations that Zuckerberg had sued Saverin for allegedly trying to freeze the company's bank account. Severin responded with a countersuit.

New York magazine points out that Mezrich has a history of being somewhat of a non-fiction fabulist — the Columbia film "21" took liberties on his book, "Bringing Down the House," which was said to contain some inventions — and according to the NYT review, "'The Accidental Billionaires' is so obviously dramatized, and so clearly unreliable, that there's no mistaking it for a serious document."

If Mezrich is getting into trouble over taking liberties and using someone with a legal axe to grind, we're wondering whether Sorkin will avoiding these same pitfalls. Will he acknowledge the legal wrangling that makes ascertaining the truth difficult? Will he make a movie full of Rashomon-type perspective? Will lawyers working on the movie have any say in what's being portrayed on screen?

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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