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Janitor sues Eddie Murphy over ''The PJs''

Janitor sues Eddie Murphy over ”The PJs.” Plus, news about Kathie Lee Gifford, ”The Osbournes,” Incubus, Radiohead, Boy George, Oprah Winfrey, Danny DeVito, David Caruso, Mills Lane, and others

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Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy: Lisa O'Connor/ZUMA Press/NewsCom

LEGAL BRIEFS Chicago janitor Tally Collier is hoping to clean up with a lawsuit against Eddie Murphy and other producers of the defunct animated series ”The PJs,” alleging that the show stole from an amateur documentary of Collier’s life. He’s seeking $75,000 in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages from star/producer Murphy, Imagine Entertainment (including producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Tony Krantz), animator Will Vinton, and the Fox network, where the series debuted in 1999. (It moved to the WB in 2000-01.) Collier alleges that the series stole his likeness for the supporting character of Sanchez (who speaks with an electronic voicebox and walks with a cane, like Collier) and the likenesses of others in the video, which was shot by Daryl Murphy (no relation to Eddie) and submitted to Oprah Winfrey‘s show in 1998, in the hope that Winfrey would turn it into a regular segment. Collier, who filed the suit on March 22 in the U.S. District Court in Illinois, says that filmmaker Murphy also requested that Winfrey pass the tape on to various Hollywood folk, including Howard, Spike Lee, Tom Hanks, Quincy Jones, and Fred Williamson. However, Winfrey never responded to Murphy’s unsolicited submission, and it’s not clear that she ever actually passed the film on to anyone….

Kathie Lee Gifford has reached an out-of-court settlement with The National Examiner over a February 2000 article that depicted son Cody as a ”spoiled brat.” She and husband Frank Gifford had sued shortly after publication, claiming that the three incidents of public brattiness cited in the article never occurred. Lawyers for the tabloid argued that the accounts ”depict typical childish behavior on [the] part of a 9-year-old son and are therefore not defamatory,” but eventually, the Examiner backed down, publishing a retraction last August and an apology to the boy, saying, ”We regret any distress or embarrassment that Cody may have experienced.” A lawyer for the Giffords say that the settlement, the terms of which are confidential, was reached quietly three months ago. Which may be the only quiet thing about the whole affair.

SOUND BITES Not only has Kelly Osbourne become a reality-TV star, but she’s also going into the family business, taking a shot at being a singer. Fittingly, Ozzy’s somewhat rebellious daughter is recording a version of Madonna‘s ”Papa Don’t Preach.” (Also aptly, she’ll be backed by members of Incubus.) Like so much else regarding MTV’s ”The Osbournes” (on whose inevitable soundtrack CD the song will likely appear), it’s a move masterminded by matriarch/manager Sharon Osbourne. ”I didn’t choose the song,” Kelly told MTV News yesterday. ”My mom did and asked me to do it. I’m kind of crapping myself because I don’t think I’m a very good singer.” Wonder if she’ll change the lyrics: ”But I’ve made up my mind/I’m keeping my tattoo.”…

Phil Selway probably doesn’t get a lot of exercise in his day job, sitting behind Radiohead‘s drum kit, but he still plans to run the London Marathon on April 14. He wants fans to sponsor his run, with pledges going to Samaritans, a nonprofit group that provides suicide-prevention counseling. He had hoped to raise $6,400, but fans have pledged more than $15,000 so far. There’s something in it for them, too: an entry into a raffle to win a drum kit Selway used during the recording of ”OK Computer.” Those interested in sponsoring Selway can do so at Radiohead’s fan site, W.A.S.T.E.