$110 million lawsuit says 'Bruno' and Letterman defamed Palestinian leader

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$110 million lawsuit says 'Bruno' and Letterman defamed Palestinian leader

Wed Dec 02, 2009 @ 11:44AM PST

By Matthew Belloni and Eriq Gardner

Bruno_narrowweb__300x3710 Here we go again.

A few months back we noted the displeasure that a group of West Bank Palestinian insurgents had expressed with Sacha Baron Cohen's escapades in "Bruno."

Now Ayman Abu Aita, the leader of the Al Aqsa Bartyrs Brigade, is filing a libel and slander lawsuit against  Cohen and NBC Universal over his portrayal in "Bruno."  The case will be filed in federal court in the District of Columbia. The plaintiff says Cohen represented himself during filming as a German filmmaker doing a film about the Palestinian cause. The film allegedly portrayed Aita as a "terrorist group leader."

In addition, according to a press release, David Letterman and CBS will be named defendants as "The Late Show" featured the scene during an interview segment with Cohen last July.

Cohen has been remarkably adept at dodging legal claims from the people featured in his movies. (Here are a few examples.) We'll see how he takes on a group of pissed-off Palestinians.

Aita is seeking compensatory damages of at least $110 million and an injunction against further DVD distribution of the movie.

We're checking with Universal to see if the studio has a comment.

UPDATE: As expected, no comment from Universal. 

2ND UPDATE: Here's a copy of the complaint. Besides the individuals and companies named above, "Bruno" director Larry Charles and media company Gannett are also named as defendants.

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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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