He’s been the Scorpion King. He’s been G.I. Joe. He’s even been Obama (or at least “The Rock Obama,” if you make the president mad) on “Saturday Night Live.” Now, thanks to a win in court, actor and retired wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson can add the role of journalist to his rundown.
In 2017, Johnson executive produced and starred in “Rock and a Hard Place,” an HBO documentary about the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Boot Camp, which gives incarcerated juveniles the chance to trade a long prison sentence for completing the intense six-month program.
At the time of filming, Christy Laster was a corrections officer in the program. She was later charged with bribery, extortion and grand theft. Laster believed outtakes from the documentary would exonerate her, and she subpoenaed HBO to get the footage.
HBO responded by moving to quash the subpoena under New York’s shield law, which protects journalists from being forced to disclose information, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Laster’s attorney argued in court that Johnson’s presence made “Rock and a Hard Place” a “celebrity reality TV show” instead of a documentary and shield law protections didn’t apply.
New York Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead disagreed, noting the law’s “very broad definition of ‘professional journalist’ encompasses anyone involved in news gathering.” She went on to say that even if “Rock and a Hard Place” had more of an entertainment focus, that broad definition “would still likely apply as long as one of the purposes of the project was disseminating news to the public about the youth incarceration program.”
Edmead went on to say Laster had no firm basis for obtaining the outtakes other than the hope that they would clear her of the charges.
“It bears repeating that Respondent cannot argue that any information contained in Petitioner’s outtakes is critical and necessary when Respondent does not know what the outtakes actually captured. Respondent cannot contend that her defense ‘rises or falls’ on the basis of footage that may not even exist,” the judge wrote.
Playing tackle, Johnson won a 1991 national championship ring as a University of Miami Hurricane. His IMDB page lists several upcoming film projects, including sequels to “Fast and Furious” and “Jumanji,” as well as a movie based on the Disney Jungle Cruise ride.