Drew Peterson attempts to stop production of Lifetime movie

Rob Lowe and Kaley Cuoco as Drew and Stacy Peterson

Drew Peterson‘s lawyer, Walter Maksym, has sent a cease and desist letter to numerous entities involved in the production of a movie based on Joe Hosey’s book, “Fatal Vows”.

I’m surprised that the letter doesn’t end with “In closing, the chicken wings at Addiction Bar and Grill are the best I ever had.”

That is to say, Peterson has never been averse to the use of his name or image in the media and was even happy to promote Joel Brodsky’s sideline business. Of course, as Maksym states in the letter, an individual does hold the rights to the commercial use of their likeness, but there are exceptions when that person is a public figure and that is probably what Lifetime/Disney/A&E will claim.

They can question the accuracy of Joe Hosey’s book all they like, but if Peterson truly had objections to it, why didn’t he go after it two years ago, when it was published? And why the bolded paragraph specifically ripping Hosey and his book? It comes off as petty and personal. Has the defense team seen the script for the movie yet to know what they are objecting to?

Sadly, I’m convinced that Peterson’s problem with the movie has far less to do with any concerns over accuracy or his upcoming trial than it does with money and the fact that he isn’t getting any money from the deal.

For a further break down and discussion please read the comments section.

Read story at the Chicago Tribune
Read Don Babwin’s AP story
765 ILCS 1075/ Right of Publicity Act

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47 thoughts on “Drew Peterson attempts to stop production of Lifetime movie

  1. “It has also come to our attention that publicity photos of actor Rob Lowe promoting the movie and his role in it have appeared in popular media, the press and on the Internet. It is reported that they were taken after a reported nine hours of make-up, repeat with, inter alia, mustache and wig in a style and color identical to my client’s and costumed in a Bolingbrook Police Department uniform in order to use my clients identity and persona for commercial purposes without seeking or obtaining his written consent.”

    “Repeat with”? Did he mean to say “replete with” which means abundantly supplied? Abundantly supplied with (among other things) a mustache and wig! LOL

  2. To Maksym and Brodsky, I say, Joe Hosey was covering the Kathleen Savio story in the hours after Kathleen took her last breath, allegedly at the hands of her ex-husband. Long before Brodsky and Maksym signed on to become media whores.

    Let’s also not forget the $50,000+ motorcycle murderabelia fiasco that was on EBay!

    Peterson and Brodsky have a book. Armstrong wrote a nice kissy ass book for them. Go get Selig to shop it around for a screenwriter, and made into a movie. What’s the hold up? Get Denzel Washington to play the coveted part the subject wants him to. Feature the veteran actor hooked up to a lie detector, as Peterson was on the cover of Armstrong’s book, as publicity photos.

    Geesh. This defense Nightmare Team gets no respect. Even when they’re doing such a great job of things. NOT!!!!

  3. You said it, Rescue! Funny to note that if a movie was to be made based on “Drew Peterson Exposed” Derek Armstrong would get all the $ for it. Remember how vehemently Joel Brodsky argued that neither he nor Drew was getting any royalties or profiting from the sales and had nothing to do wtih the writing of it? Almost makes me wish someone would buy the rights to it just so we could see them go ballistic.

  4. I was just thinking and laughing about all of this. A guy with a closet of an office on Lincoln Ave is going to tell a conglomerate of media attorneys to stop production of a movie and turn all profits to come over to them, and they’re going to say, yes sir, Mr. Maksym, we’ll do it right now. Please don’t sue us.

    Why didn’t Maksym, since he wrote the letter, stick to his point about the production being in violation of whatever law he thinks it is, and leave out the shallow, childish and ignorant Joe Hosey comments. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

    Also, this sentence is incoherent, no?

    We must therefore conclude that, the movie, like the book, it is based on also falsely imputes homicide to my client.


  5. I think this is my favorite part:

    …You are each also hereby demanded to fully and immediately disclose, account, assign and turn over to my client, via the undersigned, any and all gross revenues attributable to or that may hereafter bederived in any way or by any means, directly or indirectly, from any such unauthorized commercial exploitation….

    Stop making this movie right now! This “Commercial exploitation” is wrong, wrong, WRONG! But…well…if you do make the movie Drew wants all the money from it.

    And “Any and all”!? To hell with anyone else who is depicted in the movie, any one who worked on it, acted in it, etc. Give all the money to Drew because he’s being exploited! *cough* Moonlight Bunny Ranch, *cough* Challenging Geraldo Rivera to a boxing match, *cough* $200k for video package of him and his “fiancee” at home.

    Was he offering to share any of the proceeds from those exploits with the families of Stacy Peterson or Kathleen Savio?


  6. “First and foremost we want to make sure Drew gets an unbiased jury pool,” said Peterson’s defense attorney, Joel Brodsky. “But even after the trial, if these people are making money from the use of his name, why shouldn’t Drew get some of that money? It’s his story.”


    Can someone PLEASE inform Joel Brodsky (the moron) that it is NOT Drew’s story? The only reason there is a story to tell is because Kathleen Savio is dead and Stacy Peterson has disappeared and is assumed dead and unfortunately the only thing they have in common is Drew Peterson. It’s not Drew’s story, its their story. He’s only a part of it.

    Also, if he is convicted of murder he won’t be allowed to earn any money off his crime so there’s no point trying to make a claim now for “after the trial”.

  7. …A spokesman for Lifetime Entertainment, Les Eisner, declined to comment on the letter.

    But Joe Hosey, who wrote “Fatal Vows: The Tragic Wives of Sergeant Drew Peterson,” defended the book as accurate, saying neither Peterson nor his attorneys have identified any errors. In fact, he said, his reporting was borne out by testimony during a lengthy court hearing regarding the murder charges in the Savio case.

    “The testimony from several witnesses was word for word printed in my book well before that hearing took place,” said Hosey. “Under oath, they gave the same account that I had when I thoroughly researched my book.”…


  8. Kelli Sager, a prominent Los Angeles media lawyer who is not involved in the dispute, said it’s unlikely Peterson’s claim would hold up in court.

    The law’s very well established on this _ the First Amendment allows filmmakers, authors, TV producers, and the like to publish unauthorized biographies, and the “right of publicity” is trumped by the constitution,” she wrote in an email Thursday.

    Dave Heller, an attorney with the Media Law Resource Center in New York who also is not connected to the dispute, said the statute Maksym based his argument on is geared toward preventing the unauthorized commercial use of a person’s likeness, and that it wouldn’t apply here.

    “Right of publicity claims are defined and intended to stop the use of celebrities or other people’s names in commercial advertising, and movies, like the news, are not generally considered commercial advertising,” he said, adding that unauthorized movies and books are produced all the time about people without their permission.

    Heller said Peterson could have a legal claim if he can prove the film “departs from the known facts and is defamatory.” But he said, “They don’t have a claim over an accurate portrayal of real life events.”

    From the same article quoted above. Don Babwin did an excellent job!

  9. “First and foremost we want to make sure Drew gets an unbiased jury pool,” said Peterson’s defense attorney, Joel Brodsky. “But even after the trial, if these people are making money from the use of his name, why shouldn’t Drew get some of that money? It’s his story.”

    So, if Joe Hosey’s book is Drew’s story, then what exactly is Joel saying? His client is guilty?

  10. Thanks for the reminder, DD. Walter Maksym is executive producer of this fine film, starring Marilyn Chambers:

    Stash (II) (2007)
    80 min – Comedy

    A dark comedy about a young entrepreneur who will go to your home, in the event of your death, and secretly remove all your pornography before your loved ones have a chance to stumble upon it.


  11. Oh Good God, here we go again, (Drew and Company) WHERES OUR MONEY?????? I find this hilarious…..Boy, talk about a bunch of pond scum, leeches, sponges….Low Lifes, is all they are. But, with all the publicity on TOT MOM, they need to ge DP back out there, and market his sorry ass.

  12. When first told of the movie, Peterson, through his attorneys, joked about Lowe playing him. At the same time, one of his attorneys, Joel Brodsky, said he hoped that Lifetime, which is making the movie, would not rely on Hosey’s book, which he characterized as biased and inaccurate.

    And Maksym said that the reason Peterson did not want to file a lawsuit over the book was because he did not want to be forced to testify in a civil case before his criminal trial “because the state would use what he said” when he ultimately stood trial.

    “We will do that later,” he said.


    Isn’t there such a thing as Statute of Limitations? The Fatal Vows book was published in 2008. Drew Peterson was not charged with the murder of Kathleen Savio until May of 2009. How does Maksym’s statement above make any sense? There was no criminal proceedings to avoid, so he was free to file a civil suit then. To think that these people are insinuating that a suit will come whenever the hell they think it’s right for them is insane. These are lawyers?

    What is defamation?
    Any specific answer to this question depends on the law of the specific jurisdiction or state at issue. However, defamation can be summarized as a false statement made about an individual without any privilege protecting the speaker that is communicated to a third party and causes damage to the individual about whom the statement is made.

    A defamatory statement can be made orally (typically referred to as slander) or in writing (typically referred to as libel). Some jurisdictions or states distinguish between libel and slander, others do not and simply refer to them both as defamation.

    How long can I wait before I file a defamation suit?
    Each specific jurisdiction and state at issue sets its own time period in which a defamation suit must be filed. This time period is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In Illinois, the statute of limitations for defamation is one year.

  13. Or maybe he is mad that after 9 hours in the make-up chair Rob Lowe still looks better than Drew.

    But seriously – Brodsky shows up for opening night at the play about Drew and goes to the press for publicity and giving a good review of it without filing suit to take all of the proceeds from the play. And then he told the media that Drew was a little disappointed Denzel wasn’t going to portray him without mention of wanting it to stop.

  14. I wonder if these attorneys even consult one another anymore. They seem to be so disconnected from one another, it’s hard to tell who’s doing what for whom.

    Did Maksym even read Joe Hosey’s book? Who knows. What a discombobulated defense team.

  15. See Best v. Malec, U.S. District Court Case No. 1:09-cv-07749 – Doc. 38, 2010 WL 2364412, at *3 (N.D. Ill. E.D., June 11, 2010 – Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge), wherein A&E Television Networks, LLC was a losing defendant on the same issue.

    The letter’s example of Best v. Malec, U.S. District Court Case No. 1:09-cv-07749 is completely off base. The only similarity is the defendant.

    In Best v. Malec the situation is one of a reality show in which a woman was filmed while being arrested and she never signed a release. The footage was included in the show despite that. In this case Lifetime TV did lose the case because…duh…they were wrong to use the footage without a release.

    Maksym was on WGN news this morning saying that Best v. Malec was exactly the same as what DP is taking offense at. Well, obviously not. The lifetime movie is an adaptation of a book about a public figure, and as the lawyers in Babwin’s story pointed out, unauthorized biographies are protected under the first amendment. It’s not a matter of DP failing to sign a release for an actual appearance by him in a film or tv show.

    Here’s the decision on the Best suit: http://www.mandellmenkes.com/mms-law/pr/BEST%20OPINION%20and%20ORDER.pdf

  16. Good point. Peterson is not appearing in the movie as himself, so he has nothing to sign a release for. Had he been filmed and used without his authorization, that would be a different thing. Could it be that Maksym doesn’t understand that aspect of all of this? Wow.

  17. A&E has been producing these unauthorized biographies for a long time. At this point in time you have to imagine that their lawyers have got this covered (take a look at the lifetime movie website to see how many of these stories have been produced and shown by them) and I think Maksym and Brodsky are way off base if they think they are going to win anything on a “right to publicity” basis.

    On the other hand, if the movie does depict nonfactual or defamatory information about their client then they probably could go after A&E for defamation, but they would have to wait until the movie was produced and shown and then they would have to prove that it contained falsehoods that resulted in some sort of damages to Drew Peterson. How can they do any of that before the movie is even in the can?

    As for going after the book, Fatal Vows, that’s just Brodsky hating on Joe Hosey because he hates Joe Hosey. It’s asinine to include anything about Joe’s book in their complaint about the movie since they never before have accused it of being nonfactual. Of course the more they mention Joe’s book, the more sales Joe will get which is pretty nice for him considering that the book came out almost three years ago.

  18. As for the Illinois Right of Publicity Act., Maskym and Brodsky apparently didn’t read this bit:

    (765 ILCS 1075/35)

    Sec. 35. Applicability.
    (a) This Act applies to acts or events that take place after the effective date of this Act.
    (b) This Act does not apply to the following:
    (1) use of an individual’s identity in an attempt to portray, describe, or impersonate that individual in a live performance, a single and original work of fine art, play, book, article, musical work, film, radio, television, or other audio, visual, or audio‑visual work, provided that the performance, work, play, book, article, or film does not constitute in and of itself a commercial advertisement for a product, merchandise, goods, or services;


  19. Looks like A&E aren’t paying much attention to the letter from Drew’s attorneys as filming was underway yesterday:

    …Peterson, who awaits trial for the alleged murder of his wife Kathleen Savio, has attempted to halt the film’s production, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to the newspaper, Peterson’s attorneys called the movie a jury-prejudicing “character assassination” and threatened legal action if filming did not halt by Friday.

    I guess we all know how that turned out. The film crew used Weaver Elementary School as its staging area today while doing the actual filming is closer to Lee Elementary…


  20. Thomas Leavens, a partner at Chicago media and entertainment law firm Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler, suggested those behind the film needn’t be too concerned.

    He said Peterson’s claims would have to be balanced against the filmmakers’ First Amendment rights to tell a story and said the producers also did a “smart thing” legally by basing the film on a book, noting that Peterson never sued after its publication.

    “Certain people have become so notorious that very little aspect of their life is private,” Leavens said.


  21. Saw an interview recently with Drew’s attorney and remember him saying a while back that Drew is innocent of the charges he is in prison for. What ever happened with the Appeals? -Jasen

  22. Hi Jasen. Drew has yet to be convicted on charges. He remains detained (under a $20M bond) while awaiting his trial for murder of Kathleen Savio.

    The prosecution has appealed a decision regarding some evidence/testimony that they would like to be admitted at trial, but a decision has not been handed down on that yet. Once that has been decided we might actually see the trial get underway, but at this point it looks as if that will not happen until 2012.

    Yes, Drew’s defense team does maintain that he is innocent of the murder charges but that’s their job, isn’t it?

  23. Thanks for the update, facsmiley, much appreciated. Maybe Jose Baez can do a Casey-verdict for Drew and get him released so he can start paying back the dollars spent on the investigations. 🙂 -Jasen

  24. Maksym also argues that the film will “poison” the jury pool, though other Peterson attorneys have said it won’t have any effect on the trial because anyone who watches it won’t be seated.

    Maksym said he plans to file lawsuits if those involved with the film don’t “surrender” by July 22.

    What is going on with the defense? Anyone notice they don’t do anything as a team anymore? Two in particular pick fights to battle and run with it, apparently not getting any attention from the other attorneys until they make their silly noise in the media. Hmmmm.

  25. After watching how pitiful some prosecutors are, like in the Anthony case, I am really scared that Drew might walk on all charges and make millions from a wrongful prosecution like Casey is working on now. -Jasen

  26. I don’t think the prosecutors in the Casey Anthony case were pitiful. I think the jury did a poor job of evaluating what the prosecutors presented to them. On one hand, the jury foreman said they couldn’t convict her because they don’t know what happened to Caylee. On the other hand, he said it made them sick to acquit her because they know she had something to do with Caylee’s death. Doesn’t make any sense. I think half of the problem is they were in a rush to get a verdict and blow out of there. JMO.

  27. I can understand that you are disheartened, Jasen, but every case is different. Personally, I don’t see a lot to compare between the two cases besides the circumstantial evidence (which is also very different in both cases).

    Just imagine if Casey Anthony had lost two young children, though…

  28. Finally a hearing set for something in this case…I’ve checked Chicago Trib but dont see any news…Do you know what happened facs?I really do count on you to keep us informed and what a great job you do…I just hope that Drew doesn’t walk like Casey…I was appalled at the outcome and could care less about her now…What does concern me is the unfavorable reputation it has given Florida Jurisprudence…Want to get away with murder??? then move to Florida…It’s bad enough that the weather is conducive and bidding to all homeless and misfits of other states…Of course that’s what our great country was founded with and the Statue of Liberty says “give me your tired your poor.”…etc…

  29. I agree Estee! After watching many cases in Florida I am keeping my children, and myself far away from that state. Seems the offenders run that state there and the victims get no justice!

  30. …MORE justice system: Illinois cop Sgt. Drew Peterson’s delayed trial for allegedly doing in his third wife, Kathleen Savio, awaits an Appeals Court ruling. Supposedly she told family members, cops, a friend and others she feared he’d do her in. The Appeals Court must decide if evidence from someone dead is admissible and whether this can be introduced at trial. Testifying for the prosecution, as he did at the preliminary hearing, will be NYC’s former chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden, who says:
    “A first autopsy, a 5-to-4 vote, ruled death was accidental, but proven was that a Peterson friend sat on that jury. I was then called to perform a second autopsy. Many bruises and scalp lacerations pointed to homicide. Also, he established a time alibi by summoning a neighbor to find the body, but examinations determined death occurred much earlier, which therefore ruined his alibi…


  31. One thing that does bug me about the casting of the lifetime movie is that Rob Lowe is only 47 while the actor playing Stacy (Kaley Cuoco) is 26, which is only an 21-year age difference.

    According to Drew, he met Stacy Cales when he was 47 and she was 17 – a full 30-year age difference. I guess I would just really like to see that scene played out (if we must see it at all) with an actress who truly looks as young as Stacy was.

    Just contrast the picture in the post above with this actual picture of Stacy and Drew together. The reality is much more disturbing:

  32. Here is Stacy again with her babies. She was 21 here. Not very far from childhood herself. I just hope Cuoco can manage to play Stacy as young as she was. 😐

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