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Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock 'n' Roll Lawsuit: Ramones Biopic on Hold as Joey's Brother Battles With Johnny's Widow

The dispute revolves around an attempted adaptation of 'I Slept With Joey Ramone,' the memoir penned by Joey's brother Mickey Leigh.

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Source: Fran Javier Pavia / Digital Press Photos/Newscom/The Mega Agency

Attempts to spearhead a Joey Ramone biopic have hit a snag thanks to friction between Joey's brother and Johnny Ramone's widow.

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Way back in April 2021, the news broke that Saturday Night Live alumnus Pete Davidson was to set to re-team with director Jason Orley (Big Time Adolescence) to star in a film adaptation of I Slept with Joey Ramone, the memoir written by Joey’s little brother, Mickey Leigh.

Not only has the film yet to happen, but Leigh is currently mired in a legal battle with Linda Cummings-Ramone, widow of Joey’s former bandmate, Johnny Ramone, who – in a lawsuit filed on January 21 – claimed that Leigh “covertly developed an unapproved and unauthorized Ramones-based biopic” based on his own “one-sided recitation of the history of the Ramones.”

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Source: MEGA

The Ramones on stage at a 1987 gig at The Ritz

Leigh’s attorneys’ response to the lawsuit, which was filed in March and detailed in an article by Billboard earlier this week, was as dismissive as one might reasonably expect:

“Ms. Cummings-Ramone’s main purpose is to embarrass, harass, and destroy the integrity of Mr. Hyman, create an utterly false narrative about him, rewrite her role in the history of the Ramones, and win a popularity contest in which, in her mind, she takes over … the legacy of a band of which she never was a member and had nothing to do with creatively.”

In their January filing, Cummings-Ramone’s attorney’s wrote, “Ms. Ramone objects to defendants’ attempt to create a Ramones film without her involvement – not to be obstinate, but rather based on defendants’ disregard for [Ramones] assets and their conduct and treatment of Ms. Ramone and her late husband. To permit defendants alone to tell the authoritative story of the Ramones would be an injustice to the band and its legacy.”

In their March response, however, Leigh’s attorneys argued that I Slept With Joey Ramone is about the relationship between Leigh and his brother, and that it is “not intended to be a ‘Ramones movie’ or a Ramones biopic, adding that “Ms. Cummings-Ramone did consent to Defendants’ development and production of a motion picture” based on the book in question.

“The fact is, I did not write I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Punk Rock Family Memoir about my brother’s band and had no intention whatsoever of doing that,” Leigh said in a statement to Billboard. “I wrote a story about growing up with a big brother who endured a severe somatic malady at birth and later developed neurogenic problems. That led to doctors making diagnoses that he would never be able to function on his own in society – and that big brother, with support from his family, proved those doctors wrong as he went on to do great things with his life and become an inspiration to millions.”

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While there's no way of knowing which way this lawsuit will ultimately go, we can at least offer one piece of Ramones-related information in closing that'll put a smile on your face: today is the 98th birthday of Roger Corman, executive producer of - among other cinematic classics - Rock 'n' Roll High School. As such, we can think of no better way to close out the proceedings than with the video for the song that served as the film's title track.

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