Dear Tyler Perry
by Laura Jayne Martin
Dear Mr. Perry,
We write regarding our meeting of the 25th and our concerns that you may have, unwillingly and without malice, made statements or taken action that has breached the terms of our previously discussed agreement and, in several cases, state and federal law. As your representatives we were dismayed to hear that you recently declared the queue at register four of a Southwestern Atlanta pharmacy to be: “Tyler Perry’s checkout line.” We feel these missteps are due to a simple misunderstanding of licensing procedure and naming rights — for instance your physical presence and proximity to an object or entity does not authorize above the title-style billing or, to clarify, any billing of any kind.
For example, you cannot as you did on the 2nd, 5th, 18th, and 27th of last month publicly refer to major, or minor, geographical locations such as Tyler Perry’s Kazakhstan, Tyler Perry’s Galway Bay, Tyler Perry’s Westport, Connecticut, or Tyler Perry’s Ottoman Empire. We applaud your philanthropy and varied interests. However, we cannot sanction statements about the need to “protect important historical landmarks like Tyler Perry’s Golden Gate Bridge from the erosion of time” and “to visit often overlooked natural wonders like Tyler Perry’s Spanish Peaks in Tyler Perry’s Colorado” despite our concurrence that it is one of the best known examples of exposed igneous dikes.
It does not behoove you to assume top billing for any pre-existing business for which, you are not currently sole or part-owner, such as: Tyler Perry’s Ruby Tuesday’s, Tyler Perry’s Katz’s Deli, or Tyler Perry’s Fogo de Chão Churrascaria. Furthermore, bearing in mind the fact that mammals and films are titled differently, we cannot abide your interview with Time Magazine on the 21st of this month where you stated that you admired strong leaders like “Tyler Perry’s Winston Churchill.” Also, it is especially troubling for your public relations team when you divulge that “Tyler Perry’s Shiloh Jolie-Pitt is a beautiful baby.”
Lastly, we would like to discourage you from claiming billing for fictional characters you have created that result in inappropriate double top-billing of creatures, units, etc. For example, last Tuesday you told Entertainment Weekly that you finally read “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Catcher in the Rye.” We understand your remarks to mean that you either consciously, or unconsciously, slipped into character while reading a classic novel that you purchased at a Borders store-wide bankruptcy sale, or that you went to said sale and purchased the novel as your famously hilarious character Madea, then later read the book as Tyler Perry. However, as clear as these two possible inferences are to us, statements like the one you made can be misconstrued by the media, the general public and the estate of J.D. Salinger.
This slightly overzealous crediting is obviously due to your creative spirit that we would never want to stifle, yet as lawyers we need to protect our clients from the haphazard lawsuits flung by litigious ne’er-do-wells like the Catholic Church (we explained to them Tyler Perry’s Shroud of Turin was simply the miraculous cloth viewed through your eyes). With a more measured approach to your billing practices that more strictly observes copyrights and the laws of physics, you can avoid creating unnecessary hostility and confusion. We close with a list of things you should avoid mentioning after the proper noun possessive: books of the Bible, sports franchises, national holidays, members of the royal family, prehistoric reptiles, inventions from the 1400s, Congressmen, items from the Martha Stewart collection, deities, Nerf products, philosophical problems, or Law & Orders.
Feel free to keep this list handy.
Tyler Perry’s Law Offices of Rothstein, Schwartz, and Zeigler LLP
Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City. She is not available for children’s birthday parties.