Saturday, May 27, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Self-Professed ‘Simpsons’ Muse Wants $250M

LOS ANGELES (CN) - "Goodfellas" and "Godfather Part II" actor Frank Sivero sued Fox Television for $250 million on Tuesday, claiming the studio violated his publicity rights by basing "The Simpsons" animated wise guy Louie on him.

Sivero, who claims he is "the originator of the idea and character of Louie," sued Fox Television Studios and 21st Century Fox America in Superior Court. He alleges common law infringement of right of publicity, misappropriation of name and/or likeness, misappropriation of ideas, interference with prospective economic advantage and unjust enrichment.

Sivero says that a year before the 1990 release of "Goodfellas," he lived in a Sherman Oaks apartment next door to the writers of "The Simpsons." At the time, Sivero says, the writers knew he was creating the character of "Frankie Carbone" for Martin Scorsese's gangster epic. Sivero largely based the character on himself, he says.

Sivero claims "The Simpsons" producer James L. Brooks knew that Sivero had created the Carbone character and that the Louie character in the Simpsons would be based on him.

A year after "Goodfellas" was released, "The Simpsons" creators "went on to base one of their 'wise guy' characters on the character Frankie Carbone, a character played and developed by Sivero," he claims in the lawsuit.

Louie first appeared in a 1991 episode of "The Simpsons" and appeared in 15 more episodes of the animated series, most recently on a show broadcast on April 27, 2014, Sivero says.

By then, "The Simpsons" had become a multibillion franchise that included a movie and video games that feature the Louie character, he says.

Sivero claims that Brooks' Gracie Films told him 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. 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."

The lawsuit adds: "Sivero believes that Gracie Films never intended to make a film with Sivero, and that they were simply studying him further for the character Louie."

Sivero seeks $50 million for infringement and misappropriation of his name and likeness; $100 million for interference with prospective economic advantage; and $100 million for "improper appropriation of his confidential idea."

He is represented by Alex H. Herrera of Hess, Hess & Herrera.

"The Simpsons" franchise has grossed more than $12 billion, according to the lawsuit.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.