Among the most notable second-string chum being fed to the titular terrors of Piranha 3D is Jerry O’Connell’s character, who plays a softcore porn titan who arrives on the beach during spring break in search of girls willing to bare all for his cameras. If that sounds sort of familiar, allow O’Connell to make it totally obvious for you: “I get to play Joe Francis!” O’Connell “practically screams” during a recent interview with The Daily Beast, although he quickly followed it up with, “Oh, wait. For legal reasons I’m supposed to say, ‘I play someone loosely based on Joe Francis.’ I play Derek Jones, who owns Wild Wild Girls, which is loosely based—loosely!—on Girls Gone Wild.” Nice save, Jerry O’Connell!
Except somehow Francis saw right through his clever ruse: His lawyer recently sent a letter to The Weinstein Company threatening to sue, cautioning “all of those associated with this film to refrain from maligning Mr. Francis . . . Any defamatory or disparaging statements . . . will be met with swift litigation." Lest anyone doubt that Francis is totally for serious, you guys, take heed of the cautionary examples of both Gawker and Evil Beet Gossip, both of whom have received cease-and-desist letters of their own in the past after suggesting that Joe Francis might be a “douche” or “dirty piece of shit.”
(It should be noted here to any members of Joe Francis’ legal team who might be reading this article that these are direct quotes from those other websites, and do not represent the opinions of the author, The A.V. Club, or its parent company The Onion. However, the author is of the opinion that if you are a member of Joe Francis’ legal team, you should probably go ahead and jab a letter opener in your eye socket, or at the very least, get into a less ethically compromising line of work, like representing corporations who refuse to grant workers’ comp to people crippled in industrial accidents, or factories that accidentally poison the drinking water of an entire town. Something like that.)
Neither O’Connell nor The Weinstein Company has responded to Francis’ threat so far, probably because they know that the film already exacts the best possible revenge by having a piranha bite off the faux-Francis’ dick, which then floats toward the audience in 3D. Hey, who wants to go opening night?