In 1991, not long after he left N.W.A, Ice Cube ripped his old group apart on his scathing diss track “No Vaseline.” But he saved most of his venom for Jerry Heller, the group’s manager, a middle-aged Jewish music-industry veteran who had helped lift N.W.A out of obscurity but who’d allegedly been unscrupulous with the money that the group brought in. Since then, Heller has been, at least in the popular imagination, the villain of the N.W.A narrative. In the recent N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, Paul Giamatti (the only known actor in the movie’s cast) played Heller less as a shark than as a caring, misguided outsider who really was trying to help these young guys but who, at the end of the day, was out to get his. But the real Heller is still alive, and he’s not happy with how the movie portrayed him.
TMZ reports that Heller is suing the producers of the movie for a mind-boggling $110 million, alleging that his portrayal is false and damaging. The targets of his suit include Dr. Dre and Ice Cube (both of whom were producers on the movie), as well as NBC Universal and the estate of Eazy-E. Heller claims that the movie portrays him as “the bad guy” and “a sleazy manager who took advantage of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube,” and he also says that a few specific events depicted in the movie (including a contract signing during a lobster brunch) never happened. He also claims that the movie used his likeness, as well as scenes depicted in his autobiography, without permission. He’s also mad that the movie didn’t even give him a fake name, like “Gary Beller.”
For more on Heller, check out Amos Barshad’s great Grantland profile. RIP Grantland.