A filmmaker and former state lawmaker said he is suing two cable channels after they mixed up his comedic film with a smutty flick with the same name.
James "Bubba" Cromer, who works as the state House of Representatives' reading clerk, said he was thrilled when TV listings and promos began airing on Showtime's The Movie Channel earlier this month for his film, "The Hills Have Thighs."
His 2008 comedic movie tells the tale of a hillbilly abducted by space aliens and a group of women who search to bring him home.
Cromer, an independent filmmaker whose day job is presiding over procedures in the House of Representatives, assumed his agent had successfully sold the film to Showtime.
"I thought I had hit the big time," Cromer said.
But when he and others tuned in, including family members and friends in the House of Representatives, they saw a soft-core pornography film instead of his smut-free flick, Cromer said.
"It had nudity, sex acts, ridiculous language, just very pornographic content in my view," said Cromer, an attorney who served in the House from 1990-98. "I physically got sick. I've worked 22 years for a name. My name is all I've got and I saw it disintegrating in front of me."
Cromer's father, also a South Carolina attorney, sent cease-and-desist letters to Showtime and HBO, which has also been airing the film on its Cinemax channel, according to Bubba Cromer.
The letters appear to have worked. Tuesday, both channels' TV listings for "The Hills Have Thighs" listed a different director than Cromer and described films far different than the one he produced.
But the damage has already been done, Cromer contends.
"They (friends and lawmakers) were shocked. They were disgusted. They were angry. They were puzzled. They wanted answers," he said.
He's filed suit in Los Angeles, alleging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Web sites for Cinemax and Showtime had corrected the error by Tuesday.
"Cinemax is currently airing the film "The Hills Have Thighs" directed by Salvadore Ross, licensed from All Channel Films," wrote Jeff Cusson, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Cinemax. "On the channel, any reference to a film by that name was to this film."