Andrew Eborn explains the writ against Paramount for US$600m over child nude scenes in Zeffirelli’s 1968 Oscar winner Romeo & Juliet
PLAINTIFFS: LEONARD WHITING AND OLIVIA HUSSEY
DEFENDANT: PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION The 1968 major motion picture, Romeo and Juliet (“Romeo & Juliet” or the “Picture”) was produced and distributed from Los Angeles, California in 1968 by defendant Paramount Pictures Corporation (“Paramount”). Franco Zeffirelli (deceased) directed the Picture and was the authorized agent of Paramount and sole decision maker with respect to the employment of plaintiff actors and the content of the film. At the time of filming, Mr. Whiting (Romeo) was a minor child aged 16 years and Ms. Hussey was also a minor child aged 15 years. Plaintiffs were told by Mr. Zefferelli that there would be no nudity filmed or exhibited, and that Plaintiffs would be wearing flesh colored undergarments during the bedroom/love scene. However, on the morning of the shoot of the bedroom scene in the second week of December, 1968, the very last days of the photography, the minor children Plaintiffs were given body make-up and were told by Mr. Zifferelli that they must act in the nude or the Picture would fail. Millions were invested. They would never work again in any profession, let alone Hollywood. Zifferelli showed them where the cameras would be set so that no nudity would be filmed or photographed for use in Romeo & Juliet or anywhere else.
Plaintiffs believed they had no choice but to act in the nude with body makeup as demanded on the last days of filming. Defendants were dishonest and secretly filmed the nude or partially nude minor children without their knowledge, in violation of the state and federal laws regulating indecency and exploitation of minors for profit Whiting and Ms. Hussey as herein described, Plaintiffs have suffered and will continue to suffer physical and mental pain, along with extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress. Plaintiffs have incurred and will continue to incur medical expenses for treatment by psychotherapists and other health professionals, as well as for other incidental expenses.
Plaintiffs have also suffered a lifetime of loss of earnings and other employment benefits and job opportunities. Plaintiffs are thereby entitled to general and compensatory, economic and non-economic damages in amounts according to proof, along with disgorgement of the economic benefit to Paramount which Plaintiffs are informed and believed to be in excess of $500,000,000 since the Picture was originally released. As a further direct and proximate result of Defendants and each of their willful, knowing, and intentional violations of California law and otherwise sexually exploiting and harassing Mr. Whiting and Ms. Hussey as herein described, Plaintiffs have been compelled to retain the services of legal counsel in an effort to protect their legal rights, and will continue to incur, legal fees and costs, the full nature and extent of which are presently unknown to Plaintiffs, who therefore will seek leave of Court to amend this Complaint in that regard when the same shall become known. Plaintiff requests that attorney and expert witness fees be awarded per code.
Plaintiff are informed, and believe, and thereon allege that the outrageous conduct of Defendants, and each of them, as described herein, was done with fraud, oppression and malice and with a conscious disregard for Plaintiffs’ rights, and with the intent, design and purpose of injuring both Mr. Whiting and Ms. Hussey. Plaintiff is further informed, believes, and thereon alleges that Defendant Paramount, by and through its owners, shareholders, subsidiaries, officers, managing agents and/or their supervisors, authorized, condoned and/or ratified the unlawful conduct by their actions and inactions such as repackaging what is essentially pornography and evidence of a crime and then reselling that poisonous product for a profit over the objections of Mr. Whiting and Ms. Hussey since 1968. The time for this must be up. The knowing and repeated use of sexual images of minor children minors is the worst of behaviors in our society and must be eradicated. By reason thereof, Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to punitive or exemplary damages which Plaintiffs are informed and believe exceed $100,000,000.
Andrew Eborn, President Octopus TV Ltd, is an international lawyer, strategic business adviser, broadcaster, author and futurist. For many years Andrew has empowered companies to face the challenges of changing markets, maximise the return on their rights as well as assisting with the strategic development of their businesses. Andrew Eborn appears regularly on various channels around the world as a presenter / contributor on a wide range of topics as well as a speaker / host at live events including major festivals.
@AndrewEborn @OctopusTV https://www.octopus.tv/news-blog/