Author Michael Lewis expressed his deep disappointment over the legal dispute that has arisen between former NFL star Michael Oher and the Tuohy family, who served as the inspiration for his acclaimed book and subsequent movie adaptation, "The Blind Side." Oher, now 37, recently made shocking claims in a court filing, asserting that he was never formally adopted by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, who took him in when he was a teenager.
Instead, he revealed that he had been placed under conservatorship. Oher also alleged that the Tuohys profited from his story and likeness without adequately compensating him, particularly regarding the highly successful 2009 film which purportedly earned around $300 million.
Lewis, a childhood friend of Sean Tuohy and the author of "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," conveyed his sadness at witnessing the unfolding situation. He recounted how the Tuohys provided Oher with both resources and affection, making his suspicions about them all the more astonishing.
Lewis remarked on the state of mind that could lead to such claims, expressing genuine sympathy for Oher's perspective.
Financial Dispute Reveals Profit Discrepancies and Studio Contracts
Addressing the financial aspect, Lewis refuted the notion that massive profits had been garnered from the movie or book.
He placed blame on the Hollywood studio system's accounting practices, indicating that the financial gain did not end up in the Tuohys' hands. According to Oher's petition, the Tuohys brokered a deal with 20th Century Studios that left Oher without due compensation for the use of his name, story, and likeness.
The Tuohy family reportedly received a contract sum of $225,000 plus 2.5% of the movie's net proceeds. Oher contended that he had no memory of signing the agreement related to the rights to his life story. Despite a signature on the document that appears to be his, the filing stated that he was never provided an explanation for it.
On the other hand, lawyers for the Tuohys countered these claims, asserting that Oher had received $100,000 from the movie, and that the couple had paid taxes on his share. They also noted that Oher had refused to cash his profit participation checks.
The legal battle has unveiled a stark contrast to the narrative portrayed in Lewis' book and the film adaptation, which recounted Oher's journey from homelessness to success in the NFL. Oher's revelation that he had never been adopted, but instead placed under conservatorship, shattered the previous narrative.
Lawyers for the Tuohys argued that Oher was indeed aware of his conservatorship, referencing his 2011 book "I Beat The Odds." They noted Oher's belief that conservatorship was a form of legal guardianship akin to adoption for adults.
In the midst of this intricate legal matter, the once-close relationship between Oher and the Tuohys has deteriorated over the past decade. The allegations and counterarguments continue to unfold, revealing the complex layers behind the story that captured the hearts of many.