Real Busey Discovers Fake Busey

Hollywood B. considers legal action against better-looking Seattleite.

News of Gary Busey's Seattle doppelganger and his antics about town didn't set well with the actual Gary Busey, apparently. But Busey's Santa Monica–based lawyer, Vicki Roberts, says the Hollywood star was pleased that the Weekly outed his look-alike, Belltown resident Jeff Swanson ("Busey on Board," May 7). "Obviously, no one can be happy upon learning about someone who is usurping one's name and likeness and using it to his advantage and perhaps the real person's disadvantage," says Roberts. "However, we believe the article was very likely widely read; and now that the imposter has been exposed, the damage should be adequately mitigated." If not, Busey plans to consider his legal options, Roberts says. But he may not have much of a case. Though there is a Right of Publicity Statute that protects one's name, voice, and likeness from use by others, Busey would have to prove that Swanson was either causing him (or his image) harm or benefiting financially from his Busey-like looks. "No harm, no foul," says Kathleen Petrich, a partner at the Seattle-based law firm Graham & Dunn. And while passing himself off as Busey by signing autographs may constitute crossing a line, Petrich says Busey would still have to prove that Swanson's actions have impacted him negatively, such as being passed over for an endorsement or movie role. "To the extent that people say, 'Hey, Gary,' and [Swanson] waves...[Swanson] doesn't have the affirmative duty to correct them if it's an innocent mistake," adds Mike Atkins, also a Graham & Dunn partner. "If I was representing [Swanson], I'd say he's corrected the record. What more can you do than being on the front page of the newspaper saying you're not him?'" For his part, Swanson says that the fact that Busey is taking "the time to worry about a guy like [me]" just proves that stars are human. Instead of exploring legal means to deal with his look-alike, Swanson says Busey should be more concerned with the fact that people say he looks better than the star. "You should be looking inward, Gar, get yourself a personal trainer," he says. "Or hire me to be your body double." For the record, Swanson has signed about a half-dozen autographs since the story came out. Though he hasn't been signing them as Busey, but as Jeff Swanson, with one message: "Thanks for noticing."

 
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