Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway version of To Kill A Mockingbird sparked controversy before its release when the Harper Lee estate sued the producers, claiming the script deviated too much from the novel. The dispute was eventually settled before the play debuted, but new legal battles followed soon after.
The producer of the new adaptation, Scott Rudin, hit regional theatrical adaptations of the novel with cease and desist letters to stop production. These versions were using an older script written by Christopher Sergel, and due to a licensing agreement between Rudin and the Lee estate the productions were asked to stop.
The legal action garnered severe backlash, including a #BoycottRudinPlays hashtag on Twitter:
I am appalled that Scott Rudin is forbidding theater companies to present the original, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s bad enough that he allowed Aaron Sorkin to mess with this classic story. Now he’s trying to eliminate the original. #BoycottRudinPlays
— Christine 〽️ Abrams (@chrisabrams2659) March 3, 2019
To AARON SORKIN and JEFF DANIELS: Your silence speaks volumes. For two men whose fictional creations are so concerned about being fair and just, you’re being cowards in the face of straight-up censorship by your own production. #BOYCOTTRUDINPLAYS
— Dogocrat (@dogocrat) March 4, 2019
You don’t speak for Harper Lee (or any woman, ever) – you sully the lesson this amazing novel provides, shame on you Scott Rudin – Glad I didn’t get the chance to buy a ticket. #BOYCOTTRUDINPLAYS
— Melissa Curra (@MCurra) March 1, 2019
You are a litigious clod.
You’re a twat, a buffoon, a sod.
You deny the keys
To kids who must fear… Scodd.
— Dave Martin (@bottlesin1bag) March 2, 2019
Feeling the severity of the backlash, Rudin has offered a compromise: Theater companies can still put on To Kill A Mockingbird, but they must use Sorkin’s script.
“We have been hard at work creating what I hope might be a solution for those theater companies that have been affected by this unfortunate set of circumstances, in which rights that were not available to them were licensed to them by a third party who did not have the right to do so.”
The announcement has garnered mixed reactions from theater companies who had already rehearsed the Sergel script. It is currently unknown if all the theater companies who had productions of To Kill A Mockingbird underway will use Sorkin’s script.
Featured Image Via Playbill