Real-life maid's 'Help' lawsuit tossed by Mississippi judge
The hit movie "The Help" is based on the surprise hit novel "The Help," which is about a white Mississippi woman who writes a book called "The Help," based on the experiences of African American maids she knows.
But to what extent did Kathryn Stockett -- the real-life white Mississippi-raised novelist who is one of the hottest commodities in showbiz -- base her creation on her fellow flesh-and-blood Mississippians?
And what, if anything, does she owe them?
Those were questions raised in a lawsuit filed in a Hinds County, Miss., court by a woman named Ablene Cooper, who worked for Stockett's brother's family. On Tuesday, a judge threw out Cooper's lawsuit seeking $75,000 from Stockett as compensation for allegedly using Cooper's likeness in the book, in the guise of the fictional maid named "Aibileen."
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger noted that Stockett sent Cooper a copy of the novel in January 2009. Cooper didn't read it until later, and the judge, Tomie Green, ruled that the statute of limitations had expired for filing a claim.
Leaving the courthouse, Cooper screamed, "She's a liar. She did it. She knows she did it," according to the article by staff writer Jerry Mitchell.
Mitchell also noted that Stockett's fictional protagonist, "Skeeter" Phelan, gives the fictional proceeds of her fictional book to the fictional maids.
--Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: Ablene Cooper, right, and her son Antonio Cooper leave the Hinds County courtroom in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday, after a circuit judge dismissed her lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, author of the bestselling novel "The Help." Credit: AP