Quill and Quire


« Back to

Eckler vs. Hollywood

The hit Hollywood comedy Knocked Up opened this past weekend to rave reviews and big box office. The movie is about a couple dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, and whatever the film’s strengths, no one could dispute that its premise is an old and well-worn one.

Except Canadian author Rebecca Eckler, who thinks they stole it from her.

In a long article in the latest Maclean’s, Eckler argues that the movie’s writer-director, Judd Apatow, ripped off her 2004 memoir of the same name, and explains that she’s suing Apatow and Universal Studios. The piece isn’t available online, but here are some of Eckler’s smoking guns:

The movie Knocked Up features a woman named Alison who becomes pregnant after getting drunk. While she gets drunk going out celebrating a promotion at work, I got drunk, and knocked up, celebrating at my engagement party. Both my book and the movie feature one night of passion and the nine months that follow. Fine. Whatever. But what got me was the fact that “Alison” was an up-and-coming television reporter; in my book I was an up-and-coming newspaper reporter.

Also, Eckler had a friend with kids, and the Alison character has a sister with kids. And both book and movie have scenes with multiple pregnancy tests. And, a-ha, the father in the movie is a Jewish Canadian, just like the father of Eckler’s child. (And, um, also just like Seth Rogen, the actor who plays the film father.)

Maybe it’s just Quillblog, but this nonsense seems equivalent to one mystery writer suing another because both of their books open with mysterious murders, or because both of their cop heroes tend to buck departmental bureaucracy. A warning to comedy writers out there: if you’re working on a gag in which someone has to buy something embarrassing at the supermarket and the cashier calls for a price check on the store PA system, you better make sure Eckler hasn’t used that one – if she has, she’ll think you nicked it from her.

Oh, and in her Maclean’s piece Eckler refers to an infamous e-mail blowout between Apatow and another TV producer, Mark Brazill, implying that the dispute is evidence of Apatow’s thieving ways. Readers should probably check out the whole thing and decide for themselves, though.

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, the very same issue of Maclean’s has an article called “Courting trouble with misblurbs,” about an interesting legal development in the U.K.: “Misquote a critic to sell more tickets or books, and you could face jail time in Britain.”