Goodfellas actor Frank Sivero has hit The Simpsons with a $250 million lawsuit that claims the show stole his likeness and that of his Goodfellas character for the show’s Louie character, a member of the Springfield mob. “Louie’s appearance and mannerisms are strongly evocative of the character actor Frank Sivero,” the suit states.
Sivero appeared in the Martin Scorcese classic as Frankie Carbone, a role that garnered much critical acclaim for the actor. A year later, in their fourth season, The Simpsons introduced Louie, who has since appeared in numerous episodes throughout the show’s long history. Frank claims that some of the cartoon’s writers were neighbors of his in 1989 and that producer James L. Brooks was aware of the Scorcese flick, which was filming at the time. A year later the movie was released, and a year after that the Fox show introduced their mobster character.
Sivero’s lawsuit asserts, according to a report from Deadline, that “The Simpsons continued use of Sivero’s image and likeness for commercial purposes are all done without Sivero’s consent and without compensating Sivero.”
The filing states that Frank was even promised by Brooks on a number of occasions that they would work together. “Over the years, Sivero was told by Gracie Films that ‘he [Sivero] would be part of the future’ in connection to the success of The Simpsons. He was promised that they would make a film together but it never happened,” the complaint reads. “On one occasion, at a party in or around 1995/96, Sivero had another conversation with Mr. Brooks where Sivero stated, ‘It’s about time we do something together.’ Mr. Brooks said yes, but this again never materialized.”
Frank and his lawyers are seeking $50 million in damages pertaining to his likeness, another $50 million for “improper appropriation of Plaintiff’s confidential idea,” $50 million in exemplary damages and $100 million for what is described as “improper interference.”
Fox has yet to comment on the lawsuit but the situation has many wondering why it took Frank Sivero so many years to file considering that the character has been in existence since 1991. Whether the complaint has anything to do with the long-running cartoon’s recent resurgence in popularity thanks in part to the series-spanning, 24-hour a day marathon on FXX earlier this fall has yet to be determined.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Frank has sought compensation for use of his likeness. This past July, the actor sued a Southern California deli for using photos of him in advertisements to promote a sandwich on their menu called “The Frankie Carbony.” The deli subsequently removed all photos of Frank in relation to the sandwich, and shortened its name to “The Frankie.”