Robert De Niro’s Attorney Fires Back At Italian Director’s Plagiarism Allegations
Robert De Niro’s attorney is threatening legal action against Italian director Stefania Grassi after she accused the movie star of plagiarizing her work for his short film Ellis.
The Raging Bull actor stars in the 14-minute movie, written by Eric Roth and directed by Frenchman JR, about a man who roams the hallways of an abandoned immigrant hospital on New York’s Ellis Island.
Grassi has been taking aim at the picture on social media, alleging the script was lifted from her own short, L’uomo in Frac, but now the Hollywood icon’s legal representative, Tom Harvey, has slammed the claims as “preposterous” and “libelous.”
“The idea that two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro provided Oscar winner Eric Roth with a script from an unknown Italian writer so that Mr. Roth could use it to write the 14-minute short film, Ellis, about Ellis Island and early immigrants experience is not only preposterous, it is libelous,” Harvey writes in a statement issued on Friday.”
“Mr. De Niro never read any script from this unknown writer and never passed any such script to Mr. Roth,” he continued. “As far as Ellis is concerned, the French artist JR approached Mr. De Niro’s (production) partner, Jane Rosenthal, about the project, who arranged for JR and Mr. Roth to collaborate on the film and along the way Mr. De Niro volunteered his time because he believed strongly in the project and the work of JR. I think it is safe to assume that neither Mr. De Niro nor Mr. Roth needs to lift a part of (an) unknown Italian writer’s screenplay for a 14 minute short.”
Ellis recently premiered at the New Yorker Film Festival.