Robert De Niro's lawyer calls plagiarism claims against actor 'preposterous,' 'libelous'

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Robert De Niro is responding to claims that his short film "Ellis" was plagiarized from the work of Italian filmmaker Stefania Grassi.

The film–starring De Niro, written by Eric Roth, and directed by French artist JR–follows a man as he wanders the halls of the abandoned Ellis Island immigrant hospital. It was recently screened at the New Yorker Film Festival.

Grassi has caimed on social media that the script for the short film was taken directly from her own short, "L'uomo in Frac." Representatives for De Niro are calling her claims "libelous."

"The idea that two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro provided Oscar winner Eric Roth with a script from an unknown Italian writer so that Mr. Roth could use it to write the 14-minute short film, 'Ellis,' about Ellis Island and early immigrants experience is not only preposterous, it is libelous," De Niro's attorney said in a statement to TheWrap.

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Robert De Niro's lawyer calls plagiarism claims against actor 'preposterous,' 'libelous'
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Robert De Niro (R) and Grace Hightower attend the SNL 40th Anniversary Celebration at Rockefeller Plaza on February 15, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Robert De Niro attends the 2014 Robert F. Kennedy Ripple Of Hope Gala at New York Hilton on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Honoree Robert De Niro speaks onstage during the RFK Ripple Of Hope Gala at Hilton Hotel Midtown on December 16, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for RFK Ripple Of Hope)
ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 17: Robert De Niro attends the Remembering The Artist Robert De Niro Conference at Maxxi Museum on November 17, 2014 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 17: Robert De Niro attends the Remembering The Artist Robert De Niro Press Conference at Maxxi Museum on November 17, 2014 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Actor Robert DeNiro is seen on October 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by NCP/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK NY - OCTOBER 18: Robert De Niro sighting on October 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: 'Once Upon A Time In America' cast member Robert De Niro attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: Robert De Niro attends 2014 Atlantic Council's Global Citizen Awards at Natural History Museum on September 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway filming Nancy Meyer's 'The Intern' on September 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 26: Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway film on the set of 'The Intern' on August 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Actor Robert De Niro on the set of 'The Intern' on July 8, 2014 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: Ruby Kushner and Robert De Niro on the set of 'The Intern' on June 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Actors Robert De Niro and Linda Lavin on the set of 'The Intern' on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Actor Robert De Niro on the set of 'The Intern' on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Robert De Niro is seen filming The Intern in Park Slope, Brooklyn on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Alessio Botticelli/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06: Director Martin Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro speak onstage at Spike TV's 'Don Rickles: One Night Only' on May 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Spike TV)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower attend a screening of the HBO documentary 'Remembering The Artist, Robert De Niro, Sr.' hosted by POLITICO at the Longview Gallery on May 2, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alexander Morozov/Getty Images)
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"Mr. De Niro's office does not accept scripts and even if someone hands him a script directly or through a friend, the material is thereafter sent on to his agent," the statement continued. "Mr. De Niro never read any script from this unknown writer and never passed any such script to Mr. Roth."

As far as "Ellis" is concerned, the French artist JR approached Mr. De Niro's partner, Jane Rosenthal, about the project, who arranged for JR and Mr. Roth to collaborate on the film and along the way Mr. De Niro volunteered his time because he believed strongly in the project and the work of JR," it said.

"I think it is safe to assume that neither Mr. De Niro nor Mr. Roth needs to lift a part of unknown Italian writer's screenplay for a 14 minute short," the statement concludes.

Read original story Robert De Niro's Lawyer Calls Plagiarism Claims Against Actor 'Preposterous,' 'Libelous' At TheWrap

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