Omari Jackson, the author of an upcoming independent biographical book on President George Weah, “Untold Story of President Weah”, has denied accusations made by the President that the book is an “uncorroborated fictional fairytale meant for self-aggrandizement and an attempt to gain relevance.”
In reaction to a press statement released by the president’s office during last weekend, Jackson denied sending an extract copy of the book to President Weah as he (Weah) claimed in the release.
“At no time did I send an extract or copy of the book to the President. The accusation against me that I did send a copy to the President is totally false and lacks any iota of truth.
“Furthermore, I will like to make it clear that this biography is a first-hand account of what I witnessed as a sports journalist who covered the sport in the 1980s during Weah’s playing days in Liberia. It is not a made-up story,” Mr. Jackson explained.
Mr. Jackson said while it is true that the title of the book raises suspicion of dirty deals, the book is far from that.
”The fact is that the forthcoming book provides positive information on what happened during George Weah’s playing days in Liberia, pieces of information that are not available,” he added.
President Weah’s statement, which came in the wake of an article announcing the book, said the President was greatly concerned about Jackson’s upcoming biography which he did not sanction.
The release added: “President Weah, having had access to excerpts of the book claiming to depict an accurate account of his early days as a semi-professional soccer player, wishes to distance himself from the narrative therein, and would like to categorically and unequivocally reject the contents of the book.
“The President deems the narrative portraying his early soccer career as an uncorroborated fictional fairytale meant for self-aggrandizement and an attempt to gain relevance at his expense.
“At the appropriate time, the President will make a determination as to how he intends to present a more accurate account of his biography through an authorized author to the world.”
A look at the situation
Jackson’s forthcoming book, the “Untold Story of President Weah,” provides an in-depth account of the Weah’s football days in Liberia and shines light on the role many people played in support of his (Weah’s) efforts to get him where he is today.
In standard practice, especially for someone of President Weah’s iconic status and stature, there are professional publishers that might have already approached him for what is known in the entertainment business as “life story rights”.
“When you buy the rights to portray someone in film or television, you are buying a bundle of rights. These rights include protection from suits based on defamation, invasion of privacy and the right to publicity. You may also be buying the cooperation of the subject and his family or heirs. Perhaps you want access to diaries and letters that are not otherwise available to you,” says entertainment lawyer, Mark Litwak.
In exchange for exclusive rights to his life story, a publisher could offer the President (for example) a fee that would prevent Weah from endorsing any other version of his life story but the version of said publisher. This probably explains why the President said he is “distancing” himself away from the Jackson version of his story. It does not mean that Jackson’s account is false or flawed in any way, shape or form, it’s just not the agreed version the President has endorsed.
The President, however, cannot prevent Jackson from doing an independent life story account on him in part or in whole. As long as the independent author can justify the contents of the book with proof and prevent himself or his publisher from being sued for libel (by Weah or any other person mentioned therein), the book project is fair game.
By distancing himself from Jackson’s biographical account, President Weah wants to protect the interest of any publisher who may have already obtained exclusive rights to his story. The bottom line here is that the president wants to make money from his personal story just like any other popular figure around the world.
Mr. Jackson added that, unlike other written materials on President Weah, his book provides an in-depth account of not just the president’s playing days in Liberia but the role played by lots of people who helped the president to be where he is today.
Mr. Jackson added: “I named the book the ‘Untold Story of President Weah’ because it contains lots of unwritten information not available to the public.”