UPDATE: A judge has denied Kimbell's petition for a restraining order, clearing the way for the film to open tomorrow.
Not everybody loves Chris Rock. Example A: Regina Kimbell, who's so ticked off that she doesn't want anyone to see his new movie. That, and a $5 million check for her troubles.
The funnyman is now firing back against Kimbell, a director who has gone to court to block this Friday's release of the Rock-helmed documentary Good Hair, claiming it's a rip-off of her own film.
In a declaration filed yesterday in U.S. District Court, Rock denies swiping the idea for his flick. Rock describes his work as a "hybrid documentary and a comedy (a 'docu-comedy')" that "does not focus on the history of black hair care," as opposed to Kimbell's informational Nappy Roots. Got it?
For example, he points out, his flick milks for laughs a tournament held at the annual Bronner Bros. International Hair Show and Convention in which contestants vie for the title of "best hair stylist in the black world."
Rock claims he stumbled on the convention 17 years ago while in Atlanta for a stand-up gig. In the course of conducting research, one of his assistants brought My Nappy Roots to his team's attention as one of several films on the subject of African-American hair styles.
While he acknowledges meeting Kimbell at a private screening of her film at Paramount Studios, he says, "It was one of several documentaries we saw on black hair." He even name-checks Tyra Banks, saying she gave him a book on black hair.
After ticking off the greatest hits of his three-decade career, presumably to show he's a fine, upstanding citizen, Rock says that any injunction delaying Good Hair's release could do serious harm to his professional and personal reputation.
"If the court were to enjoin the movie, it would create a clear perception that there has been a court order that I am somehow a plagiarist," he states.
For her part, Kimbell says she spent five years working on Nappy Roots and was devastated after viewing Rock's opus, prompting her to dial up her lawyer. “I had a feeling of disbelief and disappointment, so overwhelming that all I thought was I am seeing my film with a different title,” she says.