Sean Penn Sues ‘Empire’ Creator Lee Daniels For Defamation In $10 Million Lawsuit

Truth rating: 10
Sean Penn Lee Daniels

By Michael Lewittes


Sean Penn Lee Daniels

(Getty Images)

Sean Penn is suing Lee Daniels for defamation in a $10 million lawsuit he filed on Tuesday for remarks the “Empire” creator made in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, in which the producer likened admitted woman beater Terrence Howard to the Oscar winner.

Daniels told the trade magazine that Howard “ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f*ckin’ demon,” adding, “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.” The implication is that Penn, much like Howard has publicly acknowledged in interviews, has hit women. However, while Penn has no fondness for paparazzi, he has never struck or been accused of violence against any woman.

Penn filed court papers in New York that state, “As a result of Penn’s status as a public figure, he has for years been the subject of scandalous, scurrilous, and baseless attacks. But Penn, like any citizen, has a right to defend himself and will no longer tolerate the reckless and malicious behavior of others, who seek to aggrandize themselves or their projects at his expense. Accordingly, and because of Daniels’ defamatory statements, Penn brings this action for monetary relief, and to deter Daniels and others from their defamatory actions.”

Penn’s lawsuit acknowledges that while he has “had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest.”

Gossip Cop is exclusively told by a source close to Penn, “He’s had enough of the misinformation [from media outlets] presuming it to be true” that he’s hit women. We’re told various publications over the years have wrongly published that he’s been physical in some manner with women, but it’s simply not true. Our source says, “He’s not a saint. He’s had brushes with the law,” particularly with taunting paparazzi, but he’s never ever laid a finger on a woman.

Gossip Cop has also exclusively learned that the Hollywood Reporter published Daniels’ remarks without fact-checking with Penn’s people. Gossip Cop has reached out to reps for Penn and Daniels, as well as to the Hollywood Reporter, for comments about the $10 million defamation suit.

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