Remember that time that the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, debuted and blew critics and fans away? Remember how N.W.A’s former manager Jerry Heller (played by Paul Giamatti in the film) got salty about it and proceeded to sue Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E’s estate for $110 million because he didn’t like the way he was depicted? Well, Billboard reports that U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald says the defamation lawsuit can move forward.
The judge said while many scenes in the movie are justifiable since they draw from Heller’s memoir in “colorful and hyperbolic” ways, there are two details in the movie that led him to rule in Heller’s favor and allow parts of the suit to move forward.
“The Film arguably portrays Plaintiff as an exploitative record label manager who attempted to take advantage of an unsophisticated artist by discouraging him from retaining an attorney during contract negotiations,” Fitzgerald wrote.
Both of the scenes in question unsurprisingly involve Ice Cube, who was the first to leave the group citing the shadiness of Heller’s contracts, a point he drove home in the best diss record of all-time, “No Vaseline.”
In one scene, Heller tells a young Cube that lawyers “create problems where none exists” when he says he wants an attorney to look over his contract. Another time shows Cube telling reporters that Heller was “trying to get [him] to sign a contract without legal representation.”
The judge reportedly said there’s nothing proving that these moments were fact-based and it could lead viewers to think of Heller negatively, harming his reputation in the industry. Because you know, everyone in the industry was totally convinced Heller was a stand-up guy before the film was released.
Heller still has some work ahead of him, however, because he still must prove the interaction with Cube didn’t happen and that it was written into the script with malice.