All writers take some inspiration from their own lives for the stories they tell in their books and screenplays. But it looks like CSI writer/producer Sarah Goldfinger may have gone too far (or, at the very least, was sloppy about it). The Los Angeles Times reports:
When married real estate agents Scott and Melinda Tamkin read about an episode of the hit crime drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" that featured dirty-dealing, S&M-loving real estate agents named Scott and Melinda Tamkin, they didn't need to consult a forensic expert for an explanation.
A house sale involving the Tamkins and a "CSI" producer had fallen apart four years before, and the producer was listed, in the same online description, as the co-writer of the episode. On Friday the Tamkins filed a $6-million defamation and invasion of privacy suit against the producer, Sarah Goldfinger, saying she humiliated them and cost them potential business…
I don't fault Goldfinger for using the couple as a jumping-off point for her story. There's nothing wrong with that. Series often use real-life events and people as inspiration (that's why they run a legal disclaimer on certain episodes of LAW & ORDER that are obviously "ripped from the headlines"). Goldfinger's mistake was actually using their real names in the script. Although the names of the characters were changed before the script was shot (undoubtedly after the standard legal script clearance process uncovered that there were actually real estate agents with the same name as those in the teleplay), the damage was done. The early draft was used for casting and initial network publicity.