Journalist Sues 'American Hustle' Producers for Defamation, Libel, Slander

Journalist Paul Brodeur alleges "American Hustle" damaged his reputation.

ByABC News
November 03, 2014, 12:08 PM
PHOTO: Promotional poster for the 2013 film 'American Hustle.'
Promotional poster for the 2013 film 'American Hustle.'
Columbia Pictures

— -- A science journalist is suing the producers of the acclaimed 2013 film “American Hustle”, claiming in a $1 million libel, slander and defamation lawsuit that the film damaged his reputation.

"American Hustle" is loosely based on an actual FBI sting operation to catch corrupt politicians, but the journalist is upset with a specific scene involving the actress Jennifer Lawrence and her on-screen husband, co-star Christian Bale.

In the scene, Lawrence puts what appears to be an aluminum container into a microwave oven. The container explodes once the appliance is turned on.

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In the discussion that follows, Lawrence complains about the microwave her husband brought home.

“You know, I read that it takes all the nutrition out of our food,” she says, handing her husband a publication. “I read it in an article, look, by Paul Brodeur.”

It turns out that Paul Brodeur is an actual science journalist, and he claims the scene harmed his reputation.

Brodeur has sued the film’s producing companies, including Columbia Pictures, alleging in his lawsuit that the film ties his name to a “scientifically unsupportable statement.”

Brodeur has written before about the dangers of microwaves, but in the lawsuit he said he has never “declared in any way that a microwave oven ‘takes all of the nutrition out of food.'” In fact, in his court papers, Brodeur said he has “publicly stated the opposite.”

The film's production companies did not respond to a request for comment.

The opening disclaimer of the Academy Award-nominated film states “some of this actually happened.”

Brodeur believes the film has placed him in a false light that resulted in his being “exposed to hatred, contempt, ridicule or disgrace,” and injured his reputation “as a skilled writer on scientific subjects.”

In addition to the monetary damages, Brodeur is seeking to have his name removed from any copies of the films.

Austin Siegemund-Broka, a staff reporter for The Hollywood Reporter, said Brodeur may not have an easy time with the lawsuit.

“It will probably be pretty tricky for him to prove that this line of dialogue in a movie -- which amounts to a very short scene -- has, in fact, been damaging to his reputation as a science writer,” he said.

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