Perhaps even more than online investing, E*Trade has become famous for its talking baby commercials, now a Super Bowl staple. Though there have been some memorable installments over the years (see, e.g., “why don’t you try reading the rules shankopotomus“), the gimmick had grown stale in recent years.
During the most recent Super Bowl, however, a new commercial premiered in which the E*Trade baby was confronted via online chat by his baby girlfriend about why he did not call the previous evening as he had promised. The girlfriend appeared skeptical about his explanations and then asked accusingly, “And that milkaholic Lindsay wasn’t over?” The E*Trade baby uncomfortably replies, “Lindsay?”, at which point another baby girl appears onscreen next to him, and asks, “Milk-a-what?”
During a Super Bowl in which the commercials were generally sub-par, the E*Trade commercial was at least mildly entertaining. At no point, though, did I ever think that the commercial was spoofing Lindsay Lohan. Apparently Lindsay and I disagree.
Taking the top spot in the “you truly must be kidding” news file, Ms. Lohan has filed a $100 million lawsuit against E*Trade for misappropriating her “likeness, name, characterization, and personality” and violating her right of privacy. I made an honest attempt to read the Complaint without laughing, but could not make it past the second paragraph, which alleges that Ms. Lohan “was and still is a professional actor of good repute and standing.” That such an allegation was not followed by a winking emoticon probably subjects Ms. Lohan’s attorneys to New York’s equivalent of Rule 11 sanctions. And that was only the second most outrageous claim being made by Lindsay’s camp.
Her mother, Dina Lohan, was reached for comment about the lawsuit and explained that, “everyone knows Lindsay, like Cher or Madonna.” It is true that Lindsay Lohan makes news on a near-daily basis for her terrible behavior and decision-making (see, e.g., drug and alcohol abuse, Herbie movies).
But to say that mere use of the name “Lindsay” in a commercial makes a company liable in tort to Lindsay Lohan is incredibly absurd creative. It is also relatively embarrassing for Ms. Lohan inasmuch as her lawyers will be forced to argue that the misappropriation results specifically from using the name Lindsay in conjunction with alcoholism (aka “milkaholism”) and cheating. Will they admit her DUI arrests as evidence of her public persona?
As further evidence of just how far Ms. Lohan’s star has fallen (or of how often she is intoxicated), news of the lawsuit prompted some media outlets to ask whether she even knows that the lawsuit has been filed. At first I laughed at the tongue-in-cheek inquiry, and then I realized it was not tongue-in-cheek at all.
Gawker reports that the lawsuit was filed by Stephanie Ovadia, Esq., who has previously represented Lindsay’s father, Michael Lohan. That alone is curious, given the public disputes between Lindsay and her father, who she has previously described as a “coward,” “bully,” and “public embarrassment.” It is also being reported that Lindsay’s mother, Dina Lohan, may have taken credit for the lawsuit, saying this:
They’re little babies doing this, mocking another child who’s just trying to survive Hollywood, basically. I’m just basically glad I took a stand. I’m not going to let them do this to us anymore.
It may not matter who filed the suit, because as Esquire is reporting, it appears that Lindsay Lohan was not even considered when the commercial was conceived and created. Nevertheless, the mere fact that there is a question about whether Lindsay is aware of the suit, and that the question has at least a hint of credibility, should tell Lindsay all she needs to know about the public’s opinion of her “good repute and standing.”
Frankly, it has all the makings of a Lifetime made-for-TV movie. Child movie star falls upon bad times and habits, but with the help of her suddenly devoted family, seeks redemption through the justice system. I just hope Lindsay’s parents tell her about it when they sell the rights.