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Hollywood And Crime... Harlem Nun Sues Disney & Sony Claiming They Stole "Sister Act" From Her

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 11, 2011 4:56 PM
3 Comments
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Almost 20 years (wow, that long?) after Sister Act was released in the US, Harlem-based Queen Mother Dr Delois Blakely, a real-life former Roman Catholic nun, with a pair of Ivy League degrees, has now come forward with claims that her life was the inspiration for the film, and has officially launched a lawsuit against Disney and Sony Pictures.

Queen Mother, or Dr Delois Blakely, who was profiled back in 2003 by the New York Times as Harlem's Queen Mother, and veteran activist, alleges that... at the time, she was (according to the Hollywood Reporter) a...

... young, black, singing nun serving the street people and youths of Harlem... who published the autobiography The Harlem Street Nun in 1987. Later that year, she approached Tri-Star Pictures producer Cynthia Bowles, among other Hollywood figures, with a three-page synopsis. Bowles apparently sent her a letter in reply, expressing interest in the film rights. Later... producer Scott Rudin took a Sister Act project from Tri-Star to Disney. This became the film starring Whoopi Goldberg as Delois van Cartier...

Blakely's suit states that there are similarities between the story she presented Tri-Star initially, claiming...

... breach of contract, misappropriation of likeness, unjust enrichment and other claims

And is...

... demanding an injunction against further violation of her publicity rights and equitable relief.

Interestingly, she will be represent herself in the case; and you know what they say about representing yourself in court. Although I've seen it work... in the movies mostly, however :)

So, the inevitable question I'm sure you're all asking is, why did she wait almost 20 years to bring this suit to court??? I have absolutely no idea; I'm sure someone will ask her that sooner or later.

Of course, the studios in the suit haven't released any comments... yet.

Sister Act as a packaged product has been immensely profitable for those with stakes in it; including Whoopi. It's current incarnation is as a stage musical, currently enjoying a successful run on Broadway, after receiving 5 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.

We'll be watching this one to see where it goes.

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3 Comments

  • Yibbet | November 12, 2011 8:16 AMReply

    It's widely known that Better Midler was originally offered the lead in SISTER ACT, Whoopi came in after Midler turned it down.

  • JMac | November 11, 2011 6:03 PMReply

    Interesting. And after all these years the SOL has probably run out anyway. You snooze, you lose.

  • lovesfilmnmusic | November 11, 2011 5:34 PMReply

    She's nuts and needs some attention. Sister Act is Disney's version of Pedro Almodovar's 1983 film, Dark Habits. Its that exact same movie with less drug use, sex and wild behavior.

    So maybe... if anything, she was the inspiration for a Black Lead Actress but surely not the film because it is a complete rip-off of Dark Habits.

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