Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Fox Fights $250 Million ‘Simpsons’ Case

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Fox studio on Tuesday said it will invoke free speech protections to dismiss actor Frank Sivero's $250 million claim that "The Simpsons" unlawfully uses his likeness.

Sivero claimed in an October 2014 Superior Court lawsuit that he created the wise guy Louie on "The Simpsons," and that Fox infringed on his right of publicity and misappropriated his likeness .

Louie is a character in Matt Groening's animated sitcom and video games "The Simpsons: Hit and Run" and "The Simpsons: Tapped Out."

Sivero appeared in a minor role in Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather Part II," and is best known for playing mobster Frankie Carbone in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas."

Fox asked the court to dismiss the case in March.

"Defendant specifically denies that the character 'Louie' is based on plaintiff or any character that he has ever played, and further specifically denies that it has any liability to plaintiff," Fox wrote in its March 28 answer.

Fox attorney Daniel Kohler told Superior Court Judge Rita Miller at a morning hearing that Fox will file an anti-SLAPP motion against Sivero, saying the studio is protected under the First Amendment.

Miller scheduled a case management conference for July 29 to consider the motion.

"The case will be stayed when the anti-SLAPP motion is filed," Miller said.

An attorney appearing in court via telephone for Sivero's law firm, Hess, Hess & Herrera of Beverly Hills, said he would appeal Fox's anti-SLAPP motion.

The case echoes a 2014 publicity claim brought by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega over use of his image in Activision's "Call of Duty: Black Ops II."

A state judge last year dismissed Noriega's claims after the games maker also filed an anti-SLAPP motion .

Sivero's defendants Fox Television Studios and 21st Century Fox America have been dismissed. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation is now the sole defendant.

Kohler, an intellectual property lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, declined to comment after the hearing.

Sivero's attorney Alex Herrera did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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