Although it’s been four years since VH1 dominated airwaves and ratings with the jaw-dropping TLC biographical film, ‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,’ the top-rated flick is finding itself in headlines again thanks to an unresolved defamation lawsuit filed by the group’s former manager, Perri “Pebbles” Reid.
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The ‘Mercedes Boy’ beauty is driving home accusations that she was improperly portrayed in the film (which asserted her unscrupulous business practices ultimately led the group to file bankruptcy). A week after the made-for-TV movie aired, Reid – who suffered an unceremonious Twitter attack as a result – took to TMZ to say:
“This unprovoked attack has been extremely upsetting to me and my family.”
Going on to assert the film contained “many false and defamatory statements and scenes” about her, the singer secured legal counsel in 2014 who filed a $40 million defamation suit on her behalf against Viacom (VH1’s parent company). Fast forward years later, Viacom’s motion to dismiss the case and have its summary judgment reconsidered was denied by a judge on Friday (September 22).
As a result, unless Viacom offers a settlement to the Reid camp, they will be going to court – a case which may see the surviving members of the Grammy-award winning group, TLC, called to testify. Billboard reports:
In September 2016, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Cohen ruled a jury should decide whether CrazySexyCool defamed her by creating the impression that members of TLC were pressured by Reid to sign contracts without review by a lawyer.
In a motion for reconsideration, Viacom took issue with some of the judge’s analysis regarding actual malice…Specifically, even if TLC members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas held some sort of grudge against Reid, Viacom contended that the judge should note the absence of any evidence demonstrating such bias gave defendants reason to believe the information obtained was unreliable.
The judge adds that the bias of Tionne and Chilli is “one factor” being considered, but that the “undisputed evidence” shows that Tionne and Chilli were the screenwriter’s sole source of information in drafting and revising the movie script.
In what comes as somewhat of relief to Viacom the media giant no longer has to defend one of the film’s more damning scenes regarding how Reid only paid TLC members $25 a week, among others. The judge maintains that Tionne and Chilli’s bias is “supportive” of actual malice here, but that the remaining evidence — including casting Reid as a “not quite ethical” character — does the same.