Docs That Rock

Lil’ Wayne Cries, Sues and Loses

I’ll leave it to the bloggers who discuss Leni Riefenstahl’s films to give the proper demarcations between film and propaganda. But the tension between what’s standalone art and what’s a video press release is a very real in the music doc arena. Musicians (and their label and/or lawyers) control the copyrights for music. So documentarians who seek authenticity and their own statement on a musician’s work ultimately has to get into bed with the musicians or they can’t use the music or get access to the artist. For a music doc, that’s often an unsellable compromise. So more often than not, the two sides strike a bargain. When this dance is successful (think of Joe Berlinger’s Metallica doc Some Kind of Monster), no one realizes that the band basically had final say over all aspects of the film. When its done wrong, well, hello Lil’ Wayne.

While I’m not privy to the facts of the case, here is what appears to have happened. As I wrote during Sundance, Adam Bhala Lough’s Lil’ Wayne doc The Carter was an early hit of the festival, a no hold bars look at Lil’ Wayne. But before the final screenings, the film was pulled from Sundance and none of the parties were commenting. Some speculated that it may have been a music rights issues, as Weezy was sued by the Rolling Stone’s publisher for his unauthorized usage of “Play With Fire” on his album “The Carter III.” But when that lawsuit was quietly settled in late January when the disputed recording was voluntarily removed from his album, the film never reappeared for other festivals or presales.

But it was pulled because of a dispute over final cut authority, as news broke of another lawsuit. Lil’ Wayne alleged that the film’s producers agreed to give him final cut over the film. The lawsuit said:

The 26-year-old artist allowed Digerati Holdings and QD3 Entertainment to shoot a docu-film about him. The movie company, in turn, promised to give him approval over the final cut. In early December last year, the companies screened the film for Lil Wayne’s manager, who advised them to remove objectionable content from the film. They sent another clip in January to the manager for review and approval. The manager once more demanded that all objectionable content be removed. Instead of doing so, they allegedly presented a “scandalous portrayal” of the rapper at Sundance without his approval. He is suing for breach of contract, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unfair business practices, fraud and invasion of privacy among others.

It’s not certain what the alleged “scandalous portrayal” was but most think it was Wayne’s constant cough syrup & soda addiction, depicted throughout the film.

Yet here is one case where the blog post is longer than the news. The other day per Variety, a judge refused Lil Wayne’s attempt to block the release of the documentary. Think this one best illustrates that sometimes an artist’s entitlement is so great that they think they have final cut even when they don’t. Cheers to those filmmakers who don’t buckle on final cut in order to create a lasting portrayal.

Photo Credit: Georgetown Voice


April 23, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. […] raves at Sundance, the doc mysteriously disappeared from the festival. Then it was revealed that Lil Wayne sued to block the release of the film, saying that he had been granted final authority over the cut and […]

    Pingback by Unsolved Mystery, Lil Wayne edition « Docs That Rock | November 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. Things happen,…people have emotions…what is important is you learn and you move forward.. His music is still one of the best!

    Comment by lilwayneringtones | February 17, 2010 | Reply

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