Doug Ford Sued — and Settled with — the Filmmakers of Toronto Drama 'Run This Town'

The Ontario premier's $10 million suit argued the late Rob Ford was portrayed "as a caricature and a #MeToo monster"

Photo (left): Andrew Louis

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 28, 2021

Ontario Premier Doug Ford filed a $10 million lawsuit against the makers of 2019 Toronto city hall drama Run This Town, arguing that the film sought to portray late mayor and brother Rob Ford "as a caricature and a #MeToo monster."

The Toronto Star reports that the premier filed a statement of claim in April 2020 against "various makers" of the Ricky Tollman-directed film, which saw Damian Lewis star as the infamous Toronto mayor in a terrifying amount of cosmetics.

The suit, which was settled in a mediation this past February, found Doug Ford seeking "damages in the sum of $10 million" as executor of Rob Ford's estate, for the film's alleged "misappropriation of personality and breach of privacy for publicly placing the plaintiff in a false light." Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

The plaintiff argued that director Tollman and other named parties aimed "to portray the late Robert Ford as a caricature and a #MeToo monster" in the film, and "exploited the likeness and persona of the late Robert Ford to gain publicity and notoriety for their fictional portrayal without authorization, and misappropriated Robert Ford's likeness and persona without paying the plaintiff and/or the Ford Family any compensation whatsoever," with "reckless disregard to the harm such portrayal would inflict on the beneficiaries under the estate, who include two minor-aged children."

The Star reports that "in 2018, the plaintiff's counsel emailed the film's production 'requesting information about the movie, including a copy of the script so that it could be reviewed by the plaintiff and the Ford family.'"

Tollman shared with the Star that he and his colleagues "were advised not to respond" to the 2018 email "because that's not standard practice in the film industry or in any creative industry where people create things about real life or fictional characters."

"To say that we used Rob as the main marketing tool is factually incorrect," Tollman said. "The three faces you see on the [film] poster are Mena Massoud, Ben Platt and Nina Dobrev, and the eyes of Damian Lewis in prosthetics."

The director told the Star that he feels "badly for anyone's children who have to live with the legacy of a parent who they can Google and see information about them that is unbecoming. But if you Google 'Rob Ford' there's nothing in the movie that you wouldn't see online. In fact, there's far more damning information online that isn't included in the movie."

Lawyers for Tollman wrote in a mediation brief that Run This Town "does not trade on Mayor Ford's reputation and certainly does not put him in a false light. Unfortunate facts are still facts."

You can read the Toronto Star's complete report here.

In a 6/10 review, Exclaim! called Run This Town "a flashy yet airless retelling" of Rob Ford's series of scandals centred on the mayor's millennial staff and a fictitious news outlet, while Lewis' portrayal drifts in and out of the film "played like the blustering embarrassment and gaffe-producing machine the papers love him for."

Tollman told the Star of the claim, "It was frustrating and sort of confusing because it happened quite some time after this film was released...It was just surprising that four or five or six weeks into the pandemic that this was how time was being spent."

Last year, it was reported that Jim Gaffigan would play Rob Ford in a forthcoming limited series.

Latest Coverage