NEW YORK – Jerry Seinfeld claims a cookbook author is cooking up some fancy semantics by calling him an actor rather than a comedian to minimize the humor in statements she says defamed her.
Lawyers for Seinfeld say Missy Chase Lapine's lawyers resorted to the switch in words to describe Seinfeld when several weeks ago they filed a rewritten version of her lawsuit against him and his wife in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
"Jerry Seinfeld is an enormously wealthy and well-known actor," Lapine's revised lawsuit said. The original had called him a comedian.
Lapine, the author of "The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals," accused Seinfeld's wife, Jessica Seinfeld, of plagiarizing her cookbook when in October she published her own, titled: "Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food."
During an appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," Jerry Seinfeld said Lapine was accusing his wife of "vegetable plagiarism" and compared her to the three-name killers of John Lennon and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
"If you read history, many of the three-name people do become assassins," Seinfeld said. "Mark David Chapman. And you know, James Earl Ray. So that's my concern."
His lawyers said in court papers filed late Tuesday: "No reasonable viewer could have thought that Seinfeld really meant that Lapine ... might become an `assassin' simply because she has three names."
Lapine's lawyers have said Seinfeld, best known for the sitcom "Seinfeld," used the Letterman appearance to begin a "malicious, premeditated and knowingly false and defamatory attack" on her.
"The issues of law will be decided by the court, and we are confident of the outcome," Lapine lawyer Howard B. Miller said Wednesday.
Seinfeld's lawyers asked a judge to toss out the lawsuit on First Amendment grounds.
In separate court papers, lawyers for Jessica Seinfeld accused Lapine of falsely claiming she invented the idea of hiding fruits and vegetables in children's meals when "countless prior works utilized this very same unprotectable idea," including a 1971 book. They called the lawsuit "opportunistic."