Seuss company loses court fight to block Grinch parody
A New York playwright has convinced a US federal judge that his new play is a parody of Dr Seuss’s classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and that in this legal fight, he was in the right.
US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan yesterday ruled that Matthew Lombardo’s Who’s Holiday! transformed the ‘‘utopic’’ and ‘‘cheery’’ depictions in Grinch so completely that it qualified as a parody and ‘‘fair use’’.
Hellerstein rejected arguments by Dr Seuss Enterprises LP that Lombardo’s play infringed its copyrights to the late author’s work.
Who’s Holiday! was scheduled to open off Broadway last November before its run was cancelled. Lombardo’s lawyer Jordan Greenberger said his client intended for another production to begin running as soon as November.
Lawyers for Dr Seuss Enterprises did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Grinch is about a grouchy, cavedwelling monster who decides to end Christmas, but has a change of heart after being interrupted by a little girl, Cindy Lou.
The Cindy Lou in Who’s Holiday! is less endearing. She is a profane 45-year-old woman struggling with alcohol and substance abuse, and she spent time in prison for murdering the Grinch, who was once her husband and fathered her daughter.
Dr Seuss Enterprises accused Lombardo of exploiting the characters and themes of Grinch because he was too lazy to try ‘‘working up something fresh’’.
But the judge said Lombardo turned the saccharine depictions of Who-Ville into an object of ridicule, where green beasts impregnate women, paparazzi ‘‘run rabid’’, and citizens get high on ‘‘Who Hash’’ to avoid life’s daily hassles.
A judge has ruled that a play spoofing How the Grinch Stole Christmas! does not breach copyright.