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Report: Terrence Howard Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter to Producers Behind His New Film ‘Triumph’ Over Misuse of His Likeness

Terrence Howard is once again calling out Hollywood for allegedly using his likeness without his permission, TMZ reported. The “Empire” star recently starred in the sports drama “Triumph,” directed by Brett Leonard.

According to court documents obtained by the media outlet, Howard’s legal team sent a cease-and-desist letter to Cinemark, Digital Ignition Entertainment, and Argonaut Entertainment after claiming his name, image, and likeness were featured in the movie without his permission. 

The document stated that Howard’s part in the project was “conditioned upon the satisfaction of material monetary and non-monetary promises made by the producers, which never happened.”

TMZ reports The actor’s lawyer, Michael Saltz, further alleged that the producers knew as soon as April 15 that Howard did not give his consent and that the drama film could not be released until he signed off on it. Still, the producers moved forward, and the movie was released on April 30. Howard not only stars in the film but is also listed as an executive producer.

The letter stated that the “Hustle & Flow” star could take legal action if he were to appear in “distribution, advertising, promotion, and/or exhibition of ‘Triumph’ in any matter.” Some of which has already taken place — Howard appears in a nearly 1-minute and 30-second trailer for the film.

“Triumph” was first announced in 2019 and follows the story of a high schooler, played by “Breaking Bad” actor RJ Mitte, who suffers from cerebral palsy and later joins a wrestling team coached by Howard’s character, Mr. Cutting. The film was inspired by the true story of its producer, Michael D. Coffey.

In a statement to TMZ, Digital Ignition Entertainment said, “The producers made this film with a mission to help advance awareness of Cerebral Palsy and to do our part to promote inclusion in the film.” They added, “We couldn’t be more proud of the job our cast and crew did to highlight the remarkable accomplishments of the writer of the film, who has Cerebral Palsy, and the lead actor of the film, RJ Mitte, who is also diagnosed with cerebral palsy.” Elsewhere Cinemark nor Argonaut have publicly responded to the claims. 

Howard faced similar struggles in October 2020 after he filed a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox. The Oscar-nominated star sought unpaid compensations, claiming that the “Empire” logo was created by using the likeness of his “Hustle & Flow” character, Tyler DJay Moran. He also stated that when he had asked producers where they got the concept for the logo he was never answered. 

The complaint further alleged that Howard’s “agreement granted all rights to Plaintiff’s name and likeness to Defendant in connection with the Series.” The outcome of that suit was not made public. “Empire” premiered in 2015 and aired its last episode on April 21, 2020, after six seasons.

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