A couple of weeks ago, the first trailer for the MacGruber movie was unleashed on the world, proving that it isn’t a joke and that they actually are making a movie based on the moderately funny Saturday Night Live sketch. Although some of us thought the trailer actually looked a bit better than expected, many others stuck to their guns and called it crap right from the get go. Well, if you fall into the latter group, you may be pleased to hear that someone is actively trying to stop this whole movie from ever getting released… and that someone is Lee David Zlotoff, creator of the TV show MacGyver!
According to a tipster over at Latino Review, Zlotoff is apparently in the midst of filing a massive lawsuit against Relativity Media with the hopes of not only blocking the film’s release, but also getting a sizable settlement from them. You see, it was announced last year that he is currently working on a big screen remake of MacGyver with New Line, and he thinks this may be detrimental to that project (probably similar to how Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes put the brakes on a Will Ferrell / Sacha Baron Cohen comedy version of the detective).
He may have a point, but here’s the all important question: is MacGruber protected under the “fair use” rights for parody in U.S. Copyright Law? The source at Latino Review seems to think that there is a limit to the allowed length of a parody (ie. a short sketch – yes, feature film – no), and while I can’t confirm that, I know that you have to distinguish your own creation from the original in such a way that there is no confusion between the two. MacGruber does seem an awful lot like a direct copy of MacGyver, and if it’s played too straight without enough of an exaggerated difference, maybe Zlotoff could have a case here. What do you think, is MacGruber on shaky legal ground? Do you welcome Zlotoff’s attempts to shut the movie down, or could his own MacGyver feature film be even worse than MacGruber?