Rachel Deloache Williams sues Netflix over ‘Inventing Anna’ representation

Comment

Rachel DeLoache Williams, a photo editor who befriended New York con artist and socialist Anna Sorokin, is suing Netflix over its portrayal of her on its popular show “Inventing Anna,” which launched earlier this year.

Williams, who was played by actress Katie Lowes on the series, filed the lawsuit against the streaming giant in Delaware district court on Monday, alleging defamation and false light invasion of privacy.

According to court documents, she accuses Netflix of making a “deliberate decision for dramatic purposes” to show her doing or saying things that she says portray her “as a greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative and opportunistic person.”

The lawsuit also contends that she is depicted on the show as accepting expensive gifts, clothing and jewelry and “discarding” Anna Sorokin, who also went by the name Anna Delvey when she convinced strangers she was a foreign heiress.

“Actually, she [Williams] He never did or said those things. Therefore, this action is firmly based on statements of fact that are demonstrably false and the attribution of statements that she never made,” the court filing says.

Netflix and the show’s producer, Shonda Rhimes, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday.

The true story of ‘Inventing Anna’, the Netflix series about the false heiress who swindled the rich and powerful

Convicted fraudster Sorokin, a Russian who moved to Germany in 2007 as a teenager and then to the United States in 2013 as a magazine intern, was an Instagram charm. She lived a lavish lifestyle that began to unravel in 2018, when she was indicted on multiple counts of grand theft and theft of services after failing to pay hotel and restaurant bills in New York.

The show shows Williams and Sorokin on an extravagant vacation in Morocco, where Sorokin avoids paying the bills, despite being harassed, instead promising to send telegrams while Williams’ character, under pressure, pays the high costs.

Williams said in court documents that the payments made with his credit card included airfare and a hotel stay in Marrakech, totaling $62,000. The suit adds that Sorokin later paid $5,000 but that the entire episode caused Williams a personal “financial crisis” and forced her to borrow money to pay her rent.

Sorokin’s story was originally written by journalist Jessica Pressler in a 2018 New York Magazine article titled: “How Anna Delvey Fooled New York’s Party People.” Netflix later bought the option, and producer Rhimes said at the time that she jumped off her treadmill and immediately called her office after reading Pressler’s article. “I hadn’t felt that emotion from a story that she wanted to tell and knew exactly how she wanted to tell it in a long time,” she told Netflix when the show premiered this year.

See also  5 reasons to watch Trapped on Netflix

Rhimes, who has created other hit shows like “Bridgerton,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” said of Sorokin, “She’s a villain’s villain.” She added: “You can’t help but admire her; she’s fascinating. And you can’t help but be taken by her, either.”

All nine episodes of the Netflix hit starring Julia Garner as Anna begin with the disclaimer: “This is a completely true story, except for the parts that are completely made up.”

On screen, character Anna is seen attending lavish parties and rubbing elbows with Manhattan’s financial elite, stating that “VIP is always better,” while attempting to launch an art club for private members.

Meanwhile, a ruthless and very pregnant journalist, a Fictional Pressler played by actress Anna Chlumsky, attempts to pin down Sorokin’s changing biography for a profile piece. On screen, Sorokin tells the reporter that she looks “very, very fat” and yells, “You look poor” at her and other passing acquaintances.

The Netflix series was gobbled up by global audiences upon its launch in February and was nominated for three Emmy Awards.

‘Tinder Swindler’ Scammer Subject Of New Netflix Documentary Banned From Dating App

Williams’ lead attorney, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that the case was shelved because the show tried to make “Rachel look like a horrible person” and used real biographical details.

“His reputation has been devastated. … The abuse that she received has been really horrible,” she said. “This lawsuit seeks to vindicate her reputation and remind creatives that they cannot create hate figures and name them after real people.”

Rufus-Isaacs also represents chess player Nona Gaprindashvili, who also sued Netflix for defamation over her portrayal in her hit series “The Queen’s Gambit.”

Court documents contend that Williams has been the subject of “thousands” of abusive messages since the show aired.

He did not specify a sum for damages, but accused the show of “blurring the lines between fact and fiction” as it seeks compensation. The lawsuit also requests a jury trial and an injunction to remove allegedly defamatory material involving Williams from “Inventing Anna.”

See also  Queen Elizabeth II's death sent Netflix subscribers to 'The Crown'

He adds that the reputational damage caused was “entirely avoidable” if Netflix had given his character a fictitious name and changed some of the identifying details, for which he is seeking punitive damages.

How to avoid falling for a Tinder scammer or fake German heiress

Meanwhile, Sorokin, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post, shared a meme on his Instagram story Tuesday of a woman asking to speak to the manager, writing: “Rachel calling Netflix this morning.”

In a now-deleted story post, he also wrote, “I will gladly make myself available to testify as to the accuracy of your description of Rachel, you know where to find me,” while sharing a screenshot of a Hollywood Reporter story about the lawsuit

The two women met in 2016 when Williams was working as a photo editor for Vanity Fair in New York, according to court documents. They grew closer the following year when Sorokin was living in a Manhattan hotel and “posing as a German heiress…who had a substantial trust fund at her disposal. She led a glamorous lifestyle, living in the best hotels and attending prestigious social events.”

In fact, he had little money, according to court documents, and his extravagant lifestyle soon led to huge bills. In the filing, Williams said he often offered to pay for meals, transportation and saunas, but Sorokin “usually footed the bill.”

Williams later wrote an article for Vanity Fair about her experiences with Sorokin in 2018 and published a book a year later titled “My Friend Anna: The True Story of Anna Delvey, the Fake New York City Heiress.”

In a personal essay in February, Williams acknowledged that audiences enjoy “scam stories” but criticized the Netflix show, saying he had no part in making it. “Netflix is ​​not just publishing a fictional story. You are effectively handling PR for a scammer,” she wrote.

She also called Sorokin a “former friend” and said she had “worked with the police to organize the sting operation that put her behind bars.”

Sorokin was tried in 2019, with Williams testifying. Sorokin was later sentenced to between four and 12 years in prison and was released in 2021 after serving more than three years, according to court documents. Since then, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has detained her again. She remains in ICE custody while fighting deportation to Germany.

Bryan Pietsch contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment