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'Couples Retreat’: Universal sued for allegedly cutting Black couple from overseas publicity posters

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Faizon Love has filed a lawsuit in which he accuses Universal of race discrimination for cutting him and his Black co-star out of overseas promotional posters.

Love, who acted in the 2009 film opposite fellow Black actor Kali Hawk, has alleged he was a victim of whitewashing when he and Hawk’s image was removed from posters. He filed the suit on Wednesday (November 25) after recently discovering that the offending poster remains in circulation abroad and in the US for bilingual audiences.

Variety reports that Universal declined to comment on the lawsuit in which Love also claims company executives broke their promise to remove the poster when the issue first emerged in 2009 [via the Los Angeles Times blog].

Love has also accused Universal of reneging on an offer of lucrative TV and film roles, which he now believes were made in a bid to keep him quiet about the controversy.

‘Couples Retreat’ (2009). From left: Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman. CREDIT: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

Couples Retreat, which stars Vince Vaughn in the leading role, features four couples who holiday on a resort to fix their relationships. Love and Hawk star opposite three other all-white couples.

In a statement accompanying the suit, Love claimed: “This film was a big money-maker for Universal, but instead of honouring my work and my contract, the studio chose to render me invisible to billions of moviegoers around the world [via Variety].

The suit, lodged in in Los Angeles Superior Court, is also alleging that Vaughn was brought in to quell Love’s distress about the purported incident. According to the claim, Vaughn “went so far as to tell Mr. Love that making a big deal about his removal from the poster would not be good for his career at that time”.

Elsewhere in the lawsuit documents, it reads: “What Universal Studios had initially portrayed to Mr. Love as an unintentional act of oversight and carelessness was, we now know, an intentional act of disparate and discriminatory treatment by Universal Studios and the remaining Defendants.”

Love added in the statement that he is seeking redress on behalf of Black actors whom he claims have suffered at the hands of the industry.

“They have not only hurt me financially, they have hurt me in a deeper way by dismissing me because of my Blackness – and they have hurt all Black performers by continuing to perpetuate racism in the movie industry,” Love added. “I want to ensure that future generations don’t have to endure the racism and whitewashing that I have experienced.”

The suit accuses Universal of fraud, breach of contract, and violation of California’s fair employment act and civil rights law.

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