I wanted to take a moment to weigh in on the lawsuit Deb Novak and John Witek have filed against the makers of "We Are Marshall."
I should mention up front that my parents died in the plane crash, so I may be more sensitive about this than most.
When Deb Novak asked me, my husband, Jack Lengyel, Nate Ruffin, Parker Ward, Courtney Proctor and countless others to talk about our experiences for "Ashes to Glory," we all agreed to do so to help them tell the story. Ms. Novak and Mr. Witek put in an unbelievable amount of work, and we were all pleased with how "Ashes to Glory" turned out.
When the "We Are Marshall" people came to town, a lot of us extended director McG and producer Basil Iwanyk and writer Jamie Linden the very same courtesy. We offered them our information and recollections, just as we did for Ms. Novak and Mr. Witek. I, for one, was very gratified with the respect, the dignity and the sensitivity Warner Bros. used in telling the Marshall story.
The lawsuit states that the sequencing between the documentary and the movie is the same. How else would you tell about the fall and rise of the program unless you showcase the East Carolina game, the plane crash and the Xavier game from the next season? Doesn't it just make sense to also document the program's successes of national championships and bowl game wins in the 1990s to demonstrate how far Marshall has come since the plane crash? They point to the similarities in the present-day video highlights. I happen to know for a fact WSAZ-TV sent a lot of archive footage of the aftermath of the crash and some of the exact same highlight plays to both "Ashes to Glory" and "We Are Marshall."
The Marshall plane crash story doesn't "belong" to anybody. Not me, not Jack Lengyel, not Red Dawson, not Deb Novak, not Warner Bros. It's a true event where 75 people perished, and to see their memories dragged through a possible court battle is very disheartening.
I remember Ms. Novak saying that the documentary was a "labor of love." They were glad to tell the Marshall story. Now that they're seeking $40 million dollars in damages from Warner Bros., it makes me, and others, wonder what their motivations really are.
Debbie Hagley Morehouse