Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a ‘journalist,’ judge rules06/07/2019
The Rock went from wrestler to actor — and now a New York judge says he’s a “journalist,” too.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — who produced an HBO documentary about troubled teens choosing military-style “boot camp” instead of jail — qualifies as a reporter whose work is protected by journalistic privilege in regards to the film, a judge ruled in Manhattan Supreme Court this week.
HBO had been subpoenaed by a former Miami-Dade County correctional officer, Christy Laster, who appeared in Johnson’s 2017 documentary, “Rock and a Hard Place.”
The year after the flick aired, Laster was charged with accepting bribes, extorting cadets and stealing valuables following an internal probe into reports of thefts, and her lawyers said in March court papers that outtakes from the documentary would help prove her innocence.
Her camp argued “that the involvement of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson rendered the project a ‘celebrity reality TV show’ as opposed to a ‘documentary’ entitled to protection,” according to court papers.
But HBO refused to hand over the footage, saying it was protected by the Empire State’s journalistic Shield Law, according to court papers.
Judge Carol Edmead agreed, saying it doesn’t take much to be considered a journalist in New York.
“The statute very broadly defines a ‘professional journalist’ as anyone gathering ‘news intended for dissemination to the public’ in some sort of professional capacity,” she wrote in the ruling.
“Even if the project were more entertainment-focused… [It] would still likely apply as long as one of the purposes of the project was disseminating news to the public about the youth incarceration program.”
The judge added that the subpoena amounted to a fishing expedition.
“Respondent cannot argue that any information contained in Petitioner’s outtakes is critical and necessary when Respondent does not know what the outtakes actually captured. Respondent cannot contend that her defense ‘rises or falls’ on the basis of footage that may not even exist,” the judge wrote.
So the footage will remain in the possession of HBO and won’t be admitted as evidence in Laster’s case, according to court documents.
A rep for the star didn’t immediately return a request for comment Friday.
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