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Contracts Keyed to Blum
Psenicska v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Citation:Not reported in F. Supp., 2008 WL 4185752 (2008), aff'd, 409 Fed. Appx 368 (2d Cir. 2009)
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Each Plaintiff appeared in the movie, BORAT, released in 2006. Psenicska was contacted by Schulman, who told him that Defendant One America was producing a documentary about the integration of foreigners in the American way of life. Psenicksa was interested in filming, but he was unaware that he would be asked to sign something and did not bring his reading glasses on the day of filming. As a result, Psenicksa was rushed to sign the Agreement without reading it and claimed to rely on previous conversations with Schulman. The filming involved Defendant Cohen as Borat, where Cohen drove irresponsibly and made offensive remarks. After filming, Psenicska attempted to get in touch with Schulman about the film but could not reach him and filed suit on December 3, 2007.
Streit, the owner of ETS, was contacted by Schulman and asked to provide training to a Belarus dignitary and arrange a dinner to be filmed for a documentary made for Belarus television. Streit signed a written contract on October 24, 2005. However, Streit did not receive a copy of the Agreement until immediately before Cohen’s arrival for the scheduled dinner, and each Streit plaintiff signed and returned a copy. During the dinner, Cohen/Borat performed offensive acts and made sexist remarks. After the movie was released, the Streit plaintiffs filed suit.
Lastly, Martin, who operated the Etiquette Training School of Birmingham, was contacted in October of 2005 by Schulman to provide etiquette training to a foreign report. The class was scheduled for October 23, 2005, at Martin’s home. However, the class was rescheduled after Schulman learned that Martin’s husband was familiar with another of Cohen’s characters. Schulman allegedly requested to reschedule the filming to avoid any chance Mr. Martin would recognize Cohen. At the rescheduled dinner, Martin was presented with cash and the Agreement, which Martin signed and returned. Throughout the etiquette class, Cohen/Borat offended Martin several times. In the end, the director apologized to Martin. Mr. Martin identified the alleged foreign reporter as Cohen, and Martin tried to make contact with Schulman. Marin filed suit on February 22, 2008.
The Agreements set forth each Plaintiff’s consent to appear in a documentary-style motion picture intended to reach a young adult audience. Each Agreement includes a merger clause that notes that the Participant acknowledges that in entering into the Agreement, the Participant is not relying upon any promises or statements made by anyone about the nature of the film or the identity of any other Participants or persons in the movie.
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