Arsenio Hall is a long-tenured survivor of the entertainment business, being a stand-up comedian, talk-show host, actor and writer.
As such, he unquestionably likes when the cameras are turned his way and the publicity keeps coming. Most celebrities do, knowing that public contact keeps them commercially viable.
Of course, there are limits to that, which Hall certainly pointed to in litigation he filed in a Los Angeles court yesterday. Hall's lawsuit contends that singer Sinead O'Connor "maliciously published outlandish defamatory lies" about him in a recent Facebook post in which she accused him of playing a central role as an enabler contributing to singer Prince's long-term drug addiction.
The post has been deleted, and O'Connor has not commented on the matter. A recent media account of the post and Hall's forceful response to it does not discuss whether estate administrators for Prince -- who, of course, recently passed away -- might separately take action against O'Connor for her comments.
Hall's response to the unquestionably inflammatory post was succinct and eminently direct. He called O'Connor's online statements "heinous accusations" and "despicable, fabricated lies." Hall says that he hasn't even spoken with O'Connor for a quarter century, and he described his contact with Prince as "minimal."
The case is certainly interesting on several fronts. As an immediate note, it well illustrates how quickly a celebrity's reputation can be called into question in a public forum. It also spotlights a Catch-22 scenario that applies to public figures who opt to fight back against claims they say are spurious, namely this: the response itself can further highlight the defamatory information that a lawsuit seeks to suppress.
Hall has obviously determined to engage in a fight-back strategy. His lawsuit seeks special damages of at least $5 million.