If you don’t read the NYTimes Sports section, you might have missed reports that Nancy Dowd, who wrote the greatest hockey movie ever, Slap Shot (1977, with Paul Newman), is trying to shut down public appearances by the actors — Dave “Killer” Hanson, and the Carlson brothers, Steve and Jeff, who played the Hanson brothers in the film.
Dowd apparently kept rights to live performances of the screenplay when she sold the script. Many, many years after the actors began appearing in character at charity events and hockey rinks – for a fee – Dowd is putting her foot down. According to the Times,
She said she became aware of their performances several years ago and said her concern was with how the characters were being presented.
“What they do in these shows, those are not the Hansons,” she said. “I created the Hansons. The Hansons were innocent goons. Not some dirty old guys in wigs. They tell dirty-old-man jokes. I find it offensive.”
She added, “I think they’ve seriously diminished the value of “Slap Shot” by these dog-and-pony shows they’ve put on.”
If she kept the rights to live public performances, then on the law she may have a point, though this strikes me as a case where the actors were all but playing themselves in the film, rather than fictional characters, and their appearances today may have value because audiences want to see Hanson, Carlson, and Carlson, who are indistinguishable from the Hanson brothers. Today’s appearances are the real Hanson brothers, not just characters. After all, the “actors” were hockey players in real life. According to Wikipedia,
The characters of the “Hanson Brothers” are in fact based on three actual brothers, Jeff, Steve and Jack Carlson, who played with Ned Dowd on the Jets. The character of “Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson” is based on then-Jets player Dave “Killer” Hanson. Steve and Jeff Carlson played their Hanson brother counterparts in the film. Jack Carlson was originally scripted to appear in the film as the third brother, Jack, with Dave Hanson playing his film counterpart, “Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson”. However by the time filming began, Jack Carlson had been called up by the Edmonton Oilers, then of the WHA to play in the WHA playoffs, so Dave Hanson moved into the role of “Jack Hanson”, and actor Jerry Houser was hired for the role of “Killer Carlson”.
But innocent goons? Thirty-three years may have dimmed Nancy Dowd’s memory somewhat. Goons, certainly. Innocent? Judge for yourself: