As we reported earlier, there was recently some ridiculous litigation over a Mike Tyson tattoo being used in Hangover 2 – with the looming possibility the tattoo would have to be digitally removed from the DVD and Blu-Ray releases.
Thankfully, there was a settlement and the tattoo stays, but if it had to be removed, it probably wouldn’t have been too big of a pain in the rear because of today’s digital technology. This wasn’t always the case.
There’s a famous story of when Martin Scorsese was making The Last Waltz, and the camera captured Neil Young performing with a large, white glob of Peruvian marching powder under his nostril.
As recalled in Young’s biography, Shakey, Scorsese wanted to keep it in the film because it was real, it was rock n’ roll, but Young’s manager Elliott Roberts said no way, and the offending glob had to be rotoscoped out of the film, which cost thousands of dollars. (Robbie Robertson of The Band joked this made it the most expensive cocaine he ever bought.)
Watching the film today, it looks like they tried to blend it into the lights behind Young, and seeing this white light bouncing around under Young’s nose, once you know what it is, is hilarious.
This whole nonsense also reminds me a similar incident when Metallica was making fun of Axl Rose on their documentary, A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. As usual, Axl threw a fit and demanded the videos be changed or there would be litigation.
Jory Farr was writing a book on the music business, Moguls and Madmen, and was interviewing Metallica’s managers Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch when word came down Axl was threatening to sue.
“Here’s what can happen,” Burnstein said, examining their options. “They can get an injunction and we’ll have to take all the videos off the market.”
Burnstein mentioned Biz Markie had to pull video because of the samples. “They actually had to go to retailers and get them returned…But no matter what James did, Guns N’ Roses are public figures- the court will know that.”
Slash was in the video, and Bernstein and Mensch were nervous he may not have signed a release, but they located his signed release, and once they had it in hand, they went back to Axl’s camp and said, “Do as you want to do, but my guy reading Axl’s rider is not something that our lawyer thinks you will find the basis for an injunction on. You’ve got no case. And we’re not going to pull anything voluntarily to change the video. We’re happy with it. You’re going to have to come after us legally.”
And as usual, Axl was all bark and no bite.