Soft-porn king Joe Francis is waging a war of words with Jerry O'Connell after the actor hinted his character in new disaster movie Piranha 3D is loosely based on the Girls Gone Wild filmmaker.
O'Connell plays a pornographer filming girls in bikinis on Spring Break, who loses his penis to the ravenous flesh eating fish of the title, and recently joked, "I get to play Joe Francis! Oh, wait. For legal reasons I'm supposed to say, 'I play someone loosely based on Joe Francis.'"
However, the remark has upset the filmmaker and his lawyers have been quick to warn producers and movie executives at the Weinstein Company, that "any defamatory or disparaging statements... will be met with swift litigation." And now Francis has broken his silence to take aim at the actor.
He tells The Hollywood Reporter, "I believe Mr. O'Connell may lose more than his penis if he and the Weinstein Co. choose to release this film and continue to falsely associate me with its questionable content. I appreciate a good parody as much as the next guy, but to associate me with drugs and the filming of underage girls crosses a definite line. Jerry O'Connell has repeatedly and emphatically stated on the public record that he is 'playing Joe Francis,' not a fictional character based on me. Mr. O'Connell has done this despite having been warned by his own lawyers not to admit this."
Francis says he hasn't seen the new film yet but his lawyers are monitoring the situation and will not hesitate to sue.
He adds: "The actors, producers, distributors and others associated with this film are on notice that my legal team will be evaluating their film and monitoring their promotional activities. Clearly, this film was intended to be more than a mere parody, and I intend to seek damages if and when the film is distributed."
A Weinstein Company spokesperson says, "We don't comment on any pending legal matters." Piranha 3D is released across America on Friday.