While the right of publicity is not articulated specifically, the legal doctrine made its way into the dialogue of NBC’s 30 Rock. Specifically, in the October 7, 2010 episode of 30 Rock entitled “Let’s Stay Together,” Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is approached by Pete (Scott Adsit) on her production staff, and the following dialogue ensues:
Pete: Liz, quick question about the Johnny Appleseed sketch. Does it hurt it if we can’t call him Johnny Appleseed?
Liz: Yes! Why?
Pete: Well, Johnny Appleseed was a real guy and his descendants are very litigious (both roll eyes). So, here is a list of the names that legal says we can use: Jerry Bananaseed…and…nothing else.
Liz: Great so what are my choices? Either I argue with legal or I spend all day writing something else. Does anyone care how hard I work…?
Pete: (interrupting) Doh! We can’t use Jerry Bananaseed, someone with that name killed a bunch of nurses in Portland.
Later in the episode, Lemon is complaining to Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) about how she doesn’t feel respected by her staff. She references not being able to do the stupid Johnny Appleseed sketch, prompting Jack to say:
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you are not doing a sketch on the Appleseed family. Monty Appleseeed and I share a liquor locker at the opera.”
Who says the Right of Publicity can’t be funny?
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