South Park

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Won’t Sue ‘South Park’

The Duke and Duchess would have an extremely weak case if they tried to sue the show, a lawyer has told IndieWire.

Meghan Markle And Prince Harry maybe not big fans of the latest Episode “South Park”but they’d probably be better off avoiding legal action.

“If they’ve been insulted, they can sue,” Bryan Sullivan, a media and entertainment attorney for Los Angeles firm Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae, told IndieWire. However, they would have little chance of winning. “There is no cure for being insulted.”

The last episode of “South Parktitled “The Worldwide Privacy Tour” and released on February 15, focuses on the fictional “Prince of Canada” and his wife who, after the death of the country’s queen, move to the show’s titular city of Colorado, to avoid media attention.

The characters were clearly modeled after Markle and Harry; the episode ridicules the former prince’s memoir “Spare”, as well as other projects the royal couple have released since their high-profile 2020 “Megxit” from the UK. In a Feb. 16 email to the press promoting the episode, Paramount’s Comedy Central-hired outside PR firm called the episode in the subject line “Harry & Meghan inspired.” The same PR person sent a similar email two days earlier – minus the “Harry & Meghan” language.

After the episode aired, publications like The spectator And New York Post published stories saying Markle was “shattered and overwhelmed” by the satire. Royal commentator Neil Sean also suggested FoxNews that the couple were considering legal action.

“Their legal team is taking a look at the episode to see what’s wrong and what could be turned into something more sinister. That seems to be their course of action rather than laughing it off, enjoying the moment and show the world they get the joke,” Sean said.

Public figures past to get the ‘South Park’ parody treatment include Tom Cruise, Michael Jackson and the ‘Jersey Shore’ cast.

@ Comedy Central / Courtesy of Everett Collection

A rep for the couple called the speculation ‘nonsense’ and the media reports ‘baseless, boring’ in a statement to People. A lawyer representing Markle and Harry did not respond to IndieWire’s request for comment.

Whether or not there is any truth to the reports that Markle and Harry met with their legal teams, Sullivan says the two would have extremely weak legal records. While they could certainly try to sue for defamation or false lighting — like anyone in America can sue anyone for anything — “South Park’s” reputation for scolding topical issues gives the show a very strong parody defense.

“‘South Park’ is widely considered a parody and they parody many, many things. And not everything said on ‘South Park’ is meant to be true or defamatory,” Sullivan said. “It was clearly a travesty. And it really wasn’t defamatory in any way. It’s not like [‘South Park’ was] saying [Meghan and Harry] did some kind of action or conduct that did not occur.

Another problem in the situation is that the episode “South Park”, while mocking the couple and replicating the criticism they received for claiming to want privacy while ruthlessly promoting themselves, refrains to mention Meghan Markle and Prince Harry by name; the characters are simply referred to as the Prince of Canada and his wife. According to Sullivan, this only strengthens a potential defense.

“You’re hinting at who the person is, it’s kind of taking it from reality,” Sullivan said. “But you’re not saying, ‘That’s the person and that’s what she did, that’s what she said.’ This further strengthens the parody argument.

For there to be a legitimate legal argument against parody protection, Sullivan said the article in question would have to make extreme statements about its subject matter, such as stating (or strongly suggesting) that someone is engaging in illegal acts. . The recent episode is about the sweetest ending to the “South Park” celebrity parodies; probably the most infamous portrayal of an actor on the show was in season 9’s “Trapped in the Closet,” which poked fun at rumors about Tom Cruise’s sexuality. There were rumors at the time that Cruise would be taking legal action and that the actor had threatened to quit Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible III” promotion after the episode aired (Paramount and Comedy Central are owned both to Viacom), but nothing came of it.

Other brutal parodies of celebrities — a Michael Jackson-like character who was clearly a pedophile, a Mel Gibson cameo that portrayed the actor as a crazed anti-Semite — never resulted in prosecution. To date, “South Park” has been at the center of two lawsuits, neither of which have come from major stars. In 2010, music video producer Brownmark Films sued Comedy Central and Viacom for copyright infringement after the show parodied their “What What (In the Butt)” video, but the case was dismissed. rejected. In 2012 there was reports that creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been sued by Exavier Wardlaw, who claimed that a character seen in the three-part episode “Imaginationland” was taken from his British children’s series “The Lollipop Forest”, but don’t know how the situation got resolved.

Given Meghan and Harry’s soft punch lines compared to the portrayals that did not result in a lawsuit, Sullivan said legal action would likely cost them more than any potential end result. In other words, he doesn’t take – or offer – the deal.

“Most of the lawsuits and the types of companies they would use would be quite expensive, and the damages would be really hard to prove, so on a cost-benefit analysis it’s probably not worth bringing,” he said. Sullivan said. “[This isn’t] something, as a lawyer, I would advise a client to go to court.

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