Black Maid Sues, Says 'The Help' Is Humiliating


"Despite the fact that Kathryn Stockett had actual knowledge that using the name and likeness of Ablene in 'The Help' would be emotionally upsetting and highly offensive to Ablene, Kathryn Stockett negligently and-or intentionally and in reckless disregard for the rights and dignity of Ablene proceeded with her plans," it says.

"Kathryn Stockett's appropriation of Ablene's name and likeness was done for Kathryn Stockett's commercial advantage, namely to sell more copies of 'The Help.'"

The author's father, Robert Stockett Jr. of Jackson Miss., told that he is "neutral" in the division between his son and daughter, but agreed that plenty of people are profiting, especially filmmakers who plan to release a movie version of the book this year.

The film, directed by Tate Taylor and starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, looks at what happens when a Southern town's unspoken code of rules and behavior is shattered by three women who strike an unlikely friendship. Shot in Mississippi, it is set for release in movie theaters Aug. 12.

"I don't have a position," he said, playfully correctly the reporter's pronunciation of Ablene. "It's AY-blene."

He also noted that his author daughter, who has moved north to Atlanta, "is also a New Yorker now." Stockett, a retired developer and lawyer, said he did not know her phone number.

"Sure, I liked the book. It's fiction. They didn't give me the critics' copy until it was too late," he said. "I would have got some factual things changed. But I'm low down the totem pole."

He charged media with "stirring up the pot" in the dispute between his son's maid and his daughter, adding that the ensuing publicity surrounding the feud would benefit his daughter financially.

"Kathryn will appreciate that she gets a cut," he said.

Publisher Says Novel Is 'Work of Fiction'

His son, Robert Stockett III, who is a real estate developer with Madison Properties, did not return telephone calls from at his home or office.

The author also could not be reached but her husband, Keith Rogers, said from their home in Atlanta that he and his wife "don't know [Cooper] well."

"I know nothing about it [the lawsuit]," he said, referring to his wife's publisher.

Amy Einhorn, whose imprint at Penguin Group USA published the book, was also unavailable, but she had earlier issued a prepared statement to the media: "This is a beautifully written work of fiction and we don't think there is any basis to the legal claims. We cannot comment further regarding ongoing litigation."

Stockton, herself, who has described the novel as, "fiction, by and large," admitted in several earlier interviews that the book had not been embraced enthusiastically in her hometown.

"Not everybody in Jackson, Mississippi's thrilled," she told Katie Couric last year, acknowledging that a few "close family members" were so unhappy that they were not talking to her.

One of Cooper's neighbors said she had not read "The Help," but had heard about the dispute on the television news.

"Miss Cooper is very friendly lady," said Emma Sims, 57, who is a substitute teacher. "We have had some neighborly conversations, but we have only talked three or four times. She's usually at work or at church."

The lawsuit, which was filed in Mississippi state court in Hinds County, asks for $75,000 with no punitive damages or other fees.

The author's father puts little stock in the suit.

"Ablene will probably be the last one to get a nickel out of it," Stockett Jr. said. "You can't buy that much for $75,000."

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