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AI Clones of Celebrities Land Media in Hot Water

‘Deceptively real’ deepfakes put AI in the spotlight for the wrong reasons

Ben Wodecki

April 25, 2023

2 Min Read
Tom BradyGetty Images

At a Glance

  • German magazine editor-in-chief sacked over ‘tasteless’ AI 'interview' with Formula One’s Michael Schumacher.
  • Podcast hosts forced to take down AI comedy special featuring NFL quarterback Tom Brady’s voice.

Disney’s cloning of Darth Vader’s voice gave an early glimpse into how AI is revolutionizing multimedia content − by resurrecting voices long-gone but still beloved by fans.

But it is not always a good thing. In the past week alone, two separate instances of AI-generated replications of celebrities led to potential legal ramifications.

Formula One great Michael Schumacher, who suffered a brain injury following a skiing accident in 2013, had an AI-generated ‘interview’ published in German celebrity magazine Die Aktuell. His family has threatened to sue.

And two comedians on a podcast were hit with similar threats from football legend Tom Brady over a similar incident.

‘Deceptively real’ Schumacher interview

Following an accident while skiing a decade ago, Schumacher has reportedly struggled with speech and paralysis. His family has since opted for privacy − with the driver not seen in public since.

However, Die Aktuell claimed to have published the first interview with Schumacher since his accident. The article contained quotes about his family and health, although all responses were generated by AI. The strapline for the piece read: “It sounded deceptively real.”

But the publication of the piece was met with ire. Schumacher’s family has threatened to sue Funke Media Group, which publishes Die Aktuell.

Anne Hoffmann, Die Aktuell’s editor-in-chief, has since been sacked, with Funke managing director Bianca Pohlmann saying the “tasteless and misleading article should never have appeared.”

“It in no way corresponds to the standards of journalism that we − and our readers − expect from a publisher like Funke,” Pohlmann said.

Tom Brady is not amused by AI comedy special

Tom Brady, one of the most successful NFL quarterbacks of all time, is threatening to sue a pair of comedians who created an AI version of him.

Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen, hosts of the Dudesy podcast, recently posted an episode in which the pair created a comedy special that used the voice of Brady.

The pair took published interviews of Brady and general stand-up comedy footage to create a ‘special’ where ‘Brady’ joked about his recent divorce as well as the infamous Deflategate saga.

The pair were subsequently hit with a cease and desist order, with Brady's legal team forcing the fake hour-long comedy special to be taken down.

The comedians were not too happy, arguing what they did was similar to how celebrities are parodied on shows like Saturday Night Live.

The Dudesy show stylizes itself as an AI show. The hosts say the podcast is run by an AI program, Dudesy AI, that accesses their emails, text messages, social media accounts, purchases and browsing histories to continually fit the show to their personalities.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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