Hollywood may soon be able to recreate the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, and Marilyn Monroe through computer animation, putting them in new movies with live stars. And that's going to spawn a lot of legal wrangling over who gets paid and who gets control over the posthumous careers of screen legends. What if studio execs, already drooling over recasting the most bankable actors in history, want to put Marilyn in an X-rated flick?
Right now, few states have laws shielding people from commercial exploitation after death. Following a brouhaha over an ad featuring John Wayne in drag, California passed its law granting post-mortem protection for 50 years. Law Professor Joseph Beard of St. John's University, whose law review article Casting Call at Forest Lawn explores reanimation, thinks the new technology will be a boon to living actors. He says they can profit by "selling postmortem rights before they die." The technology could be here in seven years. Now, computer images move with Claymation stiffness.