Dylan issues legal action over biopic of Edie Sedgwick

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Already beset by controversy, Sienna Miller's new film, Factory Girl, which depicts the short life of Edie Sedgwick, has now attracted the ire of Bob Dylan.

Dylan is trying to stop the release of the film and his lawyers have demanded a halt to all distribution and screenings so they can assess whether their client has been defamed.

The concern is said to be based around a false implication that Dylan was responsible for Sedgwick's suicide.

Before news of Dylan's concerns surfaced, the premiere of Factory Girl and screenings in New York had already been put back. Two weeks ago the producers of the film confirmed that just a month before its release date they had asked for some scenes to be re-shot. Sources close to the film put the re-shooting down to improving its Oscar chances.

Sixties "It girl" Sedgwick, who died of a barbiturates overdose in 1971, aged 28, was the troubled muse of artist Andy Warhol, whom she met in 1965.

Miller, 24, plays the role of the Californian heiress, who starred in many of Warhol's films at his studio, known as the Factory. Warhol is played by Guy Pearce, but the role which has proven problematic is the one played by Hayden Christensen.

He portrays a rock star named Billy Quinn who is said to be a hybrid of Dylan, Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison. He was originally cast as Bob Dylan but the name of the character was changed.

Orin Snyder, Dylan's lawyer, said the film's original screenplay depicted an alleged relationship between the musician and Sedgwick, suggesting Dylan dumped her, leading to her "tragic decline into heroin addiction and eventual suicide".

Mr Snyder alleges that critics who have seen the screenings say the character is unmistakably Dylan.

"You appear to be labouring under the misunderstanding that merely changing the name of a character or making him a purported fictional composite will immunise you from suit," Mr Snyder wrote to the Weinstein Company. "That is not so. Even though Mr Dylan's name is not used, the portrayal remains both defamatory and a violation of Mr Dylan's right of publicity.

"Until we are given an opportunity to view the film, we hereby demand that all distribution and screenings... immediately be ceased."

Dylan has not been the film's only critic. Lou Reed, a friend of Sedgwick told the New York Daily News: "I've read that script. It is one of the most disgusting, foul things I've seen in a long time."

The Weinstein Company, which is releasing the film in the US on 29 December, confirmed that it had received the letter from Dylan's lawyer but did not wish to comment.