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DJ Kool Herc Sues HBO Over Portrayal in 'Vinyl'

By Eddie Small | May 4, 2016 10:48am
 Hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc is suing HBO over his portrayal (at left) in the network's show
Hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc is suing HBO over his portrayal (at left) in the network's show "Vinyl."
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YouTube; AP/Henry Ray Abrams

THE BRONX — Hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc is suing HBO for portraying him in their new series "Vinyl" without his permission.

"Vinyl" debuted on HBO in February and focuses on the music industry in 1970s New York City.

One of the characters in the series is named Mr. Campbell or "Herc," and there is "no doubt" that he is supposed to portray the real DJ Kool Herc "and his contribution to the development of hip-hop music," according to the lawsuit filed against HBO in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Before the show aired, representatives from the network approached the Sedgwick Avenue DJ with a contract that would pay him $10,000 for waiving his rights and consultation services regarding the show, but he refused to sign, according to court papers.

The lawsuit says that surrendering his rights about how he was portrayed and about his role in creating hip-hop was "too steep a sacrifice" in exchange for just $10,000.

However, HBO did not follow up about this with DJ Kool Herc or remove his character from "Vinyl," but rather aired the series without his consent, according to the suit.

HBO argued that the contract was not meant to seek DJ Kool Herc's permission to use his likeness in the show and that such permission was not required since their portrayal of him was not derogatory, the suit says.

The lawsuit does not ask for a specific amount of money from HBO, saying the amount will be determined at trial.

HBO said in a statement that they were confident the claims had "no validity" to them.

DJ Kool Herc is commonly credited with inventing hip-hop in The Bronx at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. during a party on Aug. 11, 1973.

This year, the city moved to rename that section of Sedgwick Avenue — which was also featured in "Vinyl" — "Hip-Hop Boulevard."

DJ Kool Herc is represented in the suit by attorney Taso Pardalis of the firm Pardalis & Nohavicka.

“It’s beyond us why HBO and the producers of ‘Vinyl,’ a successful show about artists and music, would hurt an artist like Herc who has contributed so much to the music industry,” Pardalis said.