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Mad Men lawsuit: Model sues over title sequence

Date March 04, 2013

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - The hit AMC drama "Mad Men" has depicted all sorts of unsavory behavior among members of the advertising community. Now the show is being accused of the sort of unscrupulous activities that would make Don Draper blush.

Model Gita Hall May has filed suit against Lions Gate Entertainment, alleging that the opening title sequence uses her image without permission, and that the show has failed to compensate her for the use of the image.

In the suit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hall May claims that the title sequence - which depicts a man falling through the air, as he passes iconic images from the '50s and early '60s - uses a photo of her taken by famed photographer Richard Avedon for a Revlon ad.

In her complaint, Hall May - who, the suit says, was "arguably the top model of her era" - claims that the show has generated "in excess of $1 billion" thanks in part to the Emmy-winning title sequence, and she hasn't seen a penny of it.

Lions Gate had no comment for TheWrap.

"Because Defendants exploited the Photograph and Plaintiff's likeness and image while knowing that Defendants had no right to do so, and knowing that such conduct was a violation of Plaintiff's legal rights and the law, Defendants have acted with fraud, malice and oppression," the suit reads.

The complaint, which alleges misappropriation of right of publicity for commercial purposes, among other charges, also says that the show's producers "have intentionally misled the public into believing that Plaintiff endorses Defendants and their products."

Hall May is seeking statutory and punitive damages, restitution, injunctive relief, attorney's fees and costs, as well as the cost of the suit.

Meanwhile, the sixth season of "Mad Men" premieres April 7.

(Pamela Chelin contributed to this report)

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