(UPDATED with Showtime statement) Tammy Wynette had a huge hit in 1968 with “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” but today the family of the legendary country singer’s fifth and final husband has taken Showtime to court to break up their relationship with George & Tammy.
Citing an alleged violation of a five-year old Non-Disclosure Agreement signed by Georgette Jones, the estate of songwriter George Richey want a wide variety of damages from the cabler. Richey’s fourth and final wife Sheila Slaughter and offspring Tatum Keys Richey also want the award winning 2022 miniseries pulled off streaming because “the Series conveys a negative and disparaging depiction of Richey.”
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That’s the polite and legalese version of the way the suit says the self-described George & Tammy “villain” was presented.
“In summary, the Series depicts Richey as a devious husband who abused Wynette and Richey’s prior wife, facilitated and encouraged Wynette’s addiction to prescription painkillers, and engaged in financial and managerial manipulation of Wynette,” states the complaint filed in Delaware Wednesday of the Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain show based in part on Georgette Jones’ 2011 memoir The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.
Georgette Jones was a credited consulting producer on the six-episode George & Tammy. That pivotal role is big part of the Richey lawsuit, as is a 2015 action they successfully brought against George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s only daughter.
An action that saw Georgette Jones and half-sister Jackie Daly inking that NDA to keep silent on Richey.
Betrothed five times in her 55 years on tis Earth, Tammy Wynette passed away in1 998, three years before Richey and Slaughter were married. An accomplished songwriter, producer and musical director of Hee Haw, George Richey died in 2010 at the age of 74.
“Showtime, and its related corporate entities, knew or should have known of Georgette’s contractual commitment not to make any statements, written or verbal, or cause or encourage others to make any statements, written or verbal, that defame, disparage, or in any way criticize the personal or business reputation, practices or conduct of the plaintiffs or of George Richey,” the three-count complaint adds.
In various interviews over the years, the younger Jones acknowledged the legal limitations placed on her to discuss Richey. Excerpts from a sample of some of those interviews are peppered throughout today’s filing. On at least one occasion after George & Tammy debuted, Georgette Jones said in an interview that the 2019 NDA only prevented her saying “anything new” about Richey, not what she had already published in her book. The plaintiffs here respectfully disagree with that, and they say Showtime should have known better.
“Lest there be any doubt, the Defendant and its related corporate entities were specifically told, in a written letter delivered prior to the broadcast of the Series, that the Series was based on and featured disparaging information that was the ill-gotten product of Georgette’s violation of the Agreement,” the filing from attorneys in Delaware and Kentucky claims. “Nonetheless, Showtime chose to broadcast the Series anyway.”
“Because Showtime is a conscious wrongdoer, the Plaintiffs are entitled to Showtime’s profits from its wrong.”
To that end, to find out what those profits are, the plaintiffs want a deep excavation of Showtime’s accounting for the very well watched and Emmy nominated George & Tammy. Having debuted on Showtime on December 4, 2022, the Abe Sylvia created George & Tammy is currently available on Paramount+ to watch in full.
“We see no plausible basis for any claim against Showtime,” a Paramount spokesperson told Deadine. Because, even with the lock box power of NDAs diminishing, you gotta, as Tammy Wynette famously sang in 1969, “Stand By Your Man” – or in this case, your miniseries.
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