Laura Albert Settles Film Company’s “Fraud” Suit

By Neal Comment


We caught up with Laura Albert (seen above with Jonathan Lethem and Heidi Julvaits) after her appearance at the Brooklyn Book Festival yesterday afternoon, and she was excited to tell us about the settlement she’d reached with Antidote Films, which had won a lawsuit accusing her of “fraud” for selling the film rights to fiction published under the pseudonym “J.T. Leroy” after they discovered that it wasn’t, in fact, a twenty-something male prostitute’s thinly disguised autobiography. “I’m free!” Albert sang, dancing in place behind the autographing table in the Borough Hall rotunda. Slowing down, she explained: “It’s very scary to have somebody say that they’re going to take this,” holding up copies of her books. “This came out of my body, and to say that they’re going to take them and anything else that comes from me—it’s frightening.”

Albert then pointed us towards her appellate attorney, Donald David, who confirmed the existence of a settlement in which Albert would retain ownership of all her copyrights on past and future work, while agreeing to pay a figure “less than the original amount” of the judgment against her. “The payments are dependent upon her earnings in future years,” David clarified, calculated by a percentage of her income rather than a fixed schedule, “so she can write without fear of anybody looking over her shoulder. The most important thing is to put the issue behind her, so she can get on with her real purpose, which is to write creatively.”

(Note: Yes, we were being rather glib in our summary of Antidote’s objections to Albert’s extended public maintenance of the JT “hoax” or “persona” or however you choose to describe it. For “thinly disguised autobiography,” perhaps you could read “purporting to be rooted in the life experience of one type of person rather than another type of person.”)