ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

Get ready, Simpsons fans, for a truly awesome real-life court-case - one both worthy of appearing on The Simpsons, and also actually directly aimed at it.

(Now, before we get into this, we should make it clear that the legal issues discussed below obviously aren't a laughing matter - and for those involved are clearly serious, painful and of substantial importance. That being said, we just accidentally pictured everyone involved as Simpsons characters, and now we can't stop laughing.)

Here's how it goes.

The Set Up

Back in 1989, actor Frank Sivero lived in an apartment complex in Sherman Oaks, California - right next door to a couple of writers for the then-newly successful The Simpsons. At the same time, Sivero was also preparing for his role as Frankie Carbone in Goodfellas.

"What are you doing with that pot, Frankie?"
"What are you doing with that pot, Frankie?"

So far, so Hollywood, right?

But then, shortly after, The Simpsons introduced a low-level mobster named Louie, who looked like this...

He's on the left, being glared at by Fat Tony.
He's on the left, being glared at by Fat Tony.

...and who Sivero felt was directly based on him.

Which is where this gets interesting...

The Lawsuit

Mainly because Sivero was not happy about it. As in, seriously not happy. Over the next two and a half decades, Sivero (who we're now picturing as Troy McClure, with sincere apologies, and no implications intended whatsoever) reportedly spoke to The Simpsons' creative team about dealing with his issues with the character of Louie.

Now, James Brooks, whose Gracie Films you'd recognize from the end of The Simpsons' credits, supposedly told Sivero in the 90's that "he would be part of the future" of the show, and even agreed to work with Sivero at some point.

When he didn't, and almost two decades past, Sivero decided he had to take action against The Simpsons. Specifically, legal action, which argues that:

"They knew he was developing the character he was to play in the movie Goodfellas...In fact, they were aware the entire character of 'Frankie Carbone' was created and developed by Sivero, who based this character on his own personality...Louie's appearance and mannerisms are strongly evocative of character actor Frank Sivero."

And, in fairness, they kind of have a point:

But, Then it Gets Really Weird

Because when Gracie Films were meeting with Sivero in the 90's, the lawsuit claims that they...

"Never intended to make a film with Sivero, and that they were simply studying him further for the character Louie."

and, simultaneously...

"diluted the value of the character created by plaintiff, and contributed to the 'type-casting' of Plaintiff."

And what Sivero is asking for as compensation for all of this?

"$50 million in actual damage loss of his likeness, $100 million more over improper interference, $50 million more in actual damage loss over the appropriation of his "confidential" idea, $50 million more in exemplary damages over that same "confidential" idea, plus injunctive relief and reasonable attorney fees for his lawyer Alex Herrera."

Or, in other words, $250 million, plus attorney fees.

Now, we're not suggesting that Mr. Sivero and his lawyer are in any way alike to [The Simpsons](series:200695)' characters Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz (instead, we're very explicitly stating, for all practical, legal, or any other purposes, that they aren't, and seem like lovely people who we are in no way questioning any position held by), but all the same...

Troy and Lionel sure would be proud.

Now, the big question: What do you guys think?


What do you guys think: Is Frank Sivero right?

via THR


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