LOS ANGELES (CN) — The son of the late Sicilian mob boss Francesco “Ciccio” Gambino has sued Warner Bros., claiming its 2014 movie “The Judge” is “eerily similar” to his screen treatment, submitted to the studio six years ago.
Giovanni Gambino describes himself as “the son of former Sicilian mob boss Francesco ‘Ciccio’ Gambino,” in the Oct. 7 lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court. Gambino Sr. died in prison serving a 30-year sentence. Giovanni Gambino also is a cousin of late New York crime family boss Carlo Gambino, and the author or co-author of two novels, “The Vindicators” and “Guilty by Color,” which was co-written by Richard Pryor Jr., according to the complaint.
Gambino also wrote a screenplay, “Father and Son” aka “The Lawyer.”
“Father and Son” is a fictional account of a big city lawyer who is estranged from his father but reunites with him when his mother becomes terminally ill. Due to an accident, the lawyer’s father is accused of murder, his son defends him in court, and they reconcile their differences, Gambino says in his summary of the screenplay.
He says he registered his “treatment” of “Father and Son” with the Writer’s Guild on June 14, 2010, and sent a copy to friend, who sent it on to Warner Bros. producer Charbel Youssef, a defendant.
Gambino says Youssef shared the treatment with others at Warner Bros. in 2010 and reported positive feedback, then stopped returning his phone calls.
Imagine his surprise, then, when in October 2010 he saw an advertisement for “The Judge,” featuring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall, with a plot line about a high-powered attorney who is estranged from his family but defends his father during a murder trial, and is reconciled.
Six of the “eerily similar” plot points are outlined in the lawsuit: a big-city lawyer, estranged from his father, reunited when the mother becomes terminally ill, after which the father is accused of murder, the son represents him, and they become reconciled.
Warner Bros. released “The Judge” on Oct. 10, 2014, and grossed $84.4 million in theaters, with a production cost of $50 million, according to publicly available information.
Gambino says Youssef acknowledged he shared the treatment for “Father and Son” with Warner Bros., and says Warner Bros. shared the treatment with others, but Youssef would not return his calls regarding the matter.
Gambino seeks punitive and compensatory damages for breach of implied contract and breach of confidence.
Named as defendants are Warner Bros., Big Kid Pictures, Team Downey (a production company owned and founded by Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey), Village Roadshow Pictures Entertainment, and Youssef.
Warner Bros. senior vice president of corporate communications Paul McGuire declined to comment.
Gambino is represented by Brian Grossman with Tesser Ruttenberg & Grossman, who could not be reached for comment after hours Monday.
Gambino was 14 when his father was convicted. His mother raised him with help from Mafia families, which showed him “the good side of the Mafia,” he said in an Oct. 15, 2015 promotion for his book, “The Vindicators,” on PRNewswire.
“The Mafia was born of a desperate need to protect the families of Sicily in the face of horrific oppression,” Gambino says in the newswire promo. “Those are the roots of today’s Mafia, and what people often don’t realize is that the organization continues to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I hope readers will come away from ‘The Vindicators’ with a better understanding of the Mafia’s good points.”
Gambino’s father allegedly inspired Benito Mussolini’s “war on the Mafia” when the dictator visited him in Sicily, by asking why Mussolini thought he needed a police escort when he was under Gambino’s protection. Mussolini did not take kindly to the comment.
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