Judge blocks Lynyrd Skynyrd movie from former drummer Artimus Pyle

By Wade Sheridan  |  Aug. 29, 2017 at 1:52 PM
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Aug. 29 (UPI) -- An unauthorized biopic on Lynyrd Skynyrd based on the life of former drummer Artimus Pyle, has been shut down in court.

The film, titled Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash from company Cleopatra, violates a consent order Pyle signed with the rest of the band in 1988, Rolling Stone reported.

The consent allows Pyle to tell his own life story, but he is unable to use the band's name or the name of those killed in the infamous 1977 plane crash that took the lives of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines.

"Cleopatra is prohibited from making its movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd when its partner substantively contributes to the project in a way that, in the past, he willingly bargained away the very right to do just that; in any other circumstance, Cleopatra would be as 'free as a bird' to make and distribute its work," U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet said, noted The Hollywood Reporter.

Heirs of Van Zant and Gaines, along with lead guitarist Gary Rossington, sued Cleopatra once the existence of Street Survivor became known and stated that Pyle assisted in helping to make the film in violation of the band's consent order.

"This is a case in which the defendant has an affirmative constitutional right to engage in the speech for which it is being sued: in producing and releasing the film, Cleopatra is exercising its right to make a film about a newsworthy event from the past, a form of constitutionally protected free speech," said Cleopatra's lawyer in the company's defense.

The Street Survivor screenplay was written following an interview with Pyle who was set to receive five percent of the net profits made by the film for his role as consultant and co-producer. The film will need to get rid of all connections to Pyle in order to continue on.

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