Former Teen Inmates Said “Empire” Filming Violated Their Rights
“Empire” execs are blasting the former juvenile inmates who sued after they were put on lockdown for two weeks while the show filmed there.
The “Empire” bigwigs said in court papers that the minors needed to be kept under tight watch for the safety of the actors and crew, and have demanded the suit be thrown out of court.
Two former inmates of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Illinois sued 20th Century Fox and jail officials, accusing them of abusing their power and locking down the minors while they shot the TV show “Empire” on location.
Last year, Terrence Howard and Chris Rock shot for two weeks at the detention center. However, the former inmates claimed jail officials disregarded the likelihood that locking down the kids would cause severe emotional distress to the children housed in the jail.
The class action lawsuit claimed that during filming, the kids were put on lockdown and had no access to the rec yard, library and chapel – and family visits were interrupted or eliminated during filming. The kids also claimed that some staff ignored their medical needs during the shoot.
They accused the “Empire” filming of turning their education upside down, with teachers having to go to each cell and pod for tutoring – a method they claimed was not effective and chaotic.
The suit demanded accounting for the profits Fox and the jail made from the episodes, pointing out that the 30 second commercials were being sold for $750,000 a piece for the Season 3 premiere. The minors wanted a cut of the money since they were subjected to what they called extreme and outrageous conduct.
Then on November 21st, 20th Century Fox fired back at the class action lawsuit and demanded it be tossed out of court.
They deny all allegations of wrongdoing and state, “it is clear that the ‘lockdown’ alleged did not amount to punishment,” and point out that the plaintiffs haven’t stated any facts that the restrictions put on them were an expressed intent to punish them. The network said the allegation the kids were “locked down” – as in each being restricted to a cell for 24 hours – is fabricated and not what happened.
Further, they argue, “Instead, the complaint establishes that the restrictions were reasonably related to the non-punitive purpose of maintaining order and general security during a time when many “civilians” were in close proximity to the minors. This desire to maintain safety, security and order is without question a legitimate non-punitive purpose.”
They point out the restrictions imposed were not excessive and the suit makes no allegation that minors’ sleep, nutrition or safety was compromised by the shoot.
“Nevertheless, in an attempt to compensate for these conditions, teachers and exercise instructors were brought to the pods and the minors were allowed to use the gymnasium as an alternative to the yard.”
They are demanding the kids lawsuit be thrown out of court.