In September, in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Lee Daniels vehemently defended actor Terrence Howard against the criticism he had received over past allegations of domestic violence. But in doing so, Daniels brought up similar allegations about Sean Penn.
"[Terrence] ain't done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he's some [f—kin'] demon. … That's a sign of the times, of race, of where we are right now in America," Daniels stated.
And boy did that comment hit a sore spot with Penn. So sore, he filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against Daniels. Penn stated in his lawsuit that Daniels made "false and defamatory statements," even though there are some who might say the comments weren't that far from the truth.
In Daniels' response to the lawsuit in December, he called it "an assault on the First Amendment."
"With fame, money and high-priced legal counsel, Penn has the power to buy most things," Daniels' court documents stated. "Fortunately for Daniels, the First Amendment is not for sale. It protects Daniels and others from lawsuits like this one, financially-draining attacks brought to punish free speech exercised to Penn’s chagrin."
Well, apparently, an apology and a donation to Penn's charity go a long way, because the lawsuit has been dropped. Daniels penned an apology and donated an undisclosed amount to Penn's J/P Haitian Relief Organization.
"I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean, and I apologize and retract my reckless statements about you," Daniels said in a statement. "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," he continued. "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."
Daniels also mentioned how domestic violence should be taken seriously.
"Domestic violence is a very serious issue," he continued. "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."
In Penn's response, he gladly accepted the apology and, of course, the money.
"I accept Lee's heartfelt apology and appreciate the sincerity with which it was delivered," Penn said in a statement. "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."
The line "I am so sorry that I have hurt you, Sean" seems a little bit much and hilarious to me.