You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that owns the rights to the Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, has accused a playwright of infringing on its copyright with his parody play, Who's Holiday.
The company sent multiple cease-and-desist letters to the playwright and the New York theater hosting the one-woman show.
The letters led to the planned nine-week holiday season run of the play being canceled, resulting in roughly $130,000 in damages, according to a lawsuit filed by the playwright in New York on Tuesday. The Grinch really did ruin Christmas.
The lawsuit demands Dr. Seuss Enterprises drop its claim that the play violates its copyright.
Who's Holiday, written by Michael Lombard, tells the story of how Cindy Lou Who's life fell apart after meeting the Grinch. It's a dark parody of the Grinch story, lawyers for Lombard insist, meaning the play should be considered a protected form of free speech, not copyright infringement.
In the one-woman show, Cindy Lou Who, played by Jennifer Simard, prepares for a holiday party after being recently released from prison for roasting the family dog.
She tells the audience how she fell in love with the Grinch and became pregnant with his child. She moved into his cave, despite her family's protests. In the cave, the marriage fell apart; the Grinch had no job, which led to years of financial hardship.
One day she noticed the Grinch left his dog outside, where it froze to death. She brought the dog's body inside and roasted him in the oven, before feeding him to her family without explaining the source of the meat. The Grinch became furious and threatened to kill her when he learned what she had done. In the heat of the argument he slipped off a cliff and died.
Cindy Lou Who is eventually found guilty of canine murder and serves 20 years in prison. Her daughter is put into foster care and wants nothing to do with her.
"Dr. Seuss this is not," the lawsuit claims. "The Play is distinctive from, and departs markedly from, Grinch."
The suit defends its use of some Grinch characters, saying it is necessary "as the Play must be able to refer to recognizable elements of Grinch and conjure up at least enough of Grinch to make the objects of its critical wit recognizable."
Who's Holiday is not a copycat, Lombardo's attorney Jordan Greenberger told BuzzFeed News in a statement.
"Lombardo’s play ... is a comedic work with explicit language geared towards adult audiences," he said. "The language and tone of the play is shockingly different from Grinch, and the play’s audience cannot mistake it for a theatrical version of Grinch given the play’s tone, plot, and other differences."
Directed by Carl Andress, the play was scheduled for a nine-week run beginning on Nov. 2 — until the Grinch's intellectual property owners managed to ruin the holiday spirit.
Lombardo, the playwright, is claiming a total of $55,861.92 in damages to the play's team and $75,000 in lost box-office receipts. Dr. Seuss Enterprises did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Leticia Miranda is a retail reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Leticia Miranda at email@example.com.
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