Levi Johnston's lawyers get their Conan apology (video)

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Levi Johnston's lawyers get their Conan apology (video)

Fri Nov 06, 2009 @ 12:12PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Conan O'Brien may have saved himself from a defamation lawsuit last night on "The Tonight Show."

After O'Brien showcased a skit on Wednesday night featuring William Shatner reading the supposed tweets of Levi Johnston — the man most famous for getting Sarah Palin's daughter pregnant — he was contacted by Johnson's legal representation informing the host that the Twitter account was run by an imposter.

So O'Brien apologized on last night's show to Johnston, who will soon appear nude in Playgirl magazine. Then, he cracked a joke ("Levi is clearly a great American. We wish him the best of luck as he trains for his upcoming naked photo shoot.") and brought back Shatner to stage a reading of verified quotes from Johnson.

Obviously, the mistake was innocent. Even if O'Brien didn't apologize, most courts would probably recognize Johnston as a public figure who would need to show "actual malice" to win a defamation claim. This only goes to show that celebrities should register official Twitter accounts even if they don't intend to use them. Even D-list ones like Johnston.

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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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