In a letter sent to Magnolia Pictures in September, and with similarly worded letters sent to director Andrew Jarecki and his agents at CAA, the Durst family said, "It is currently our plan to sue Mr. Jarecki and Magnolia if you distribute this film. It appears that the current version of the film defames the Durst and the Durst Organization. We will file the action after the film has been released and run its course, so that our lawsuit will not aid the film’s promotion. We recognize that it is very unlikely that any court will grant a prior restraint enjoining the release of the film." Well, so much for not aiding in the film's promotion.
So just what is the cause of all this furor? The family is apparently not pleased with being slandered in the course of telling the oddball story of family black sheep Robert Durst. He was questioned in both the disappearance of his first wife Kathleen McCormack (played by Kirsten Dunst in the film) and much later, in the murder of his partner Susan Berman. In 2001 he was tried for the murder of his neighbor Morris Black and was acquitted, but was found guilty of improperly disposing of the body and served nine months. He's since cut ties with his family completely in exchange for $65 million.
But outside of the tale of Robert's less than savory history the family says, "The Dursts and the [Durst Organization] are pained and concerned by the film’s false depiction of their family and their family-owned company as criminal collaborators in the prostitution and drug rings that plagued Time Square in the 1970s…" This would apply to the portrayal of Seymour Durst (played by Frank Langella) but, legally speaking, since he died in 1995 he can't be libeled.
Word is that Magnolia plans to go ahead with their plans to release the film, but we imagine it won't be the last they'll be hearing from the Durst family. As for Gosling, it's the second film for him this awards season to face a roadblock, with "Blue Valentine" earning a dreaded NC-17 rating from the MPAA killing its box office chances and limiting its play dates. You can catch our review of "All Good Things" next week.