Dead Man Walking

Sean Penn and Empire creator Lee Daniels have announced a settlement to Penn’s defamation lawsuit filed over Daniels’ remarks about the actor being abusive, Variety reports. Over the years, Penn has been accused of several acts of violence, including domestic violence during his marriage to Madonna. He also has been charged twice for assaulting photographers. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels compared Penn to admitted wife beater and Empire star Terrence Howard, saying, “[Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some fucking demon.” This was in reference to a recent lawsuit filed by Howard’s his ex-wife, Michelle Ghent, alleging that he nearly beat her to death. Daniels added, “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

Rather than allow the court of public opinion to roast Daniels for basically asking that more men be allowed to beat people and totally get away with it, Penn decided to sue Daniels for $10 million, all but guaranteeing each time there was a development in the lawsuit that entertainment news outlets would reprint that Penn allegedly hit Madonna in the head with a baseball bat. But that’s all over now, as Daniels has agreed under the terms of the settlement to issue an awkward apology to Penn and donate to one of the actor’s causes, the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The apology follows:

I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you. How thoughtless of me. You are someone I consider a friend, a brilliant actor and true Hollywood legend and humanitarian.

I too have been the subject of false attacks by others, like those made here. My most important role is as a father, and it is important to me that my children learn that it is wrong to reference gossip as fact, as I did here. That can be very damaging and hurtful.

Domestic violence is a very serious issue. My comments were cavalier; it was not my intention to diminish the severity of the issue, but rather to express a view regarding the disparate treatment of men of color in our national conversation. I apologize again for the distress that this has caused you and your family. My very best, Lee Daniels.

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In response, Penn issued the following statement: “I accept Lee’s heartfelt apology and appreciate the sincerity with which it was delivered. I also accept and appreciate his generous donation to J/P HRO, which will have a transformative effect on the lives of those we serve in Haiti.”

Unless you live in Haiti, you might find this entire story a little depressing, but there has been one all-too-perfect development: Penn will next appear in The Angry Birds Movie as a rageful character named Terrance.