Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Court rules against Goodfellas actor claiming The Simpsons stole his likeness

For 10 months now, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation has been involved in a lawsuit against Goodfellas actor Frank Sivero (a.k.a. “Litigious Frankie,” as he’ll probably be known from now on), after Sivero filed suit alleging The Simpsons had modeled the character of Louie, Fat Tony’s henchman, on his performance as Frankie Carbone in Goodfellas. The actor demanded $250 million in recompense, or roughly $10.9 million for every year he had known about the character before deciding to sue. Despite the obvious implication that Sivero often dishes out insults like “You’re all talk, Hamill—you never even finished Jedi school!” in real life, Deadline reports the case has been dismissed.

Sivero had argued that Simpsons exec producer James L. Brooks was “highly aware of who Sivero was, the fact that he created the role of Frankie Carbone, and that The Simpsons character Louie would be based on this character.” This, despite the previously reported fact that Carbone simultaneously acknowledged Dan Castellaneta based Louie’s voice on Joe Pesci’s character in the film. (Also, Martin Scorsese and Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pillegi should really be thanking Sivero for “creating the role” of Frankie Carbone, since it means the actor presumably re-wrote the script after inventing the character from whole cloth.)

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The judge was apparently also surprised anyone could think Sivero had a case, saying, “If I was a teenage girl and I had a crush on your client, would I be happy with a poster of this character Louie?” Indeed, the pages of Tiger Beat magazine would have been flooded with complaints, had that purveyor of tween crush pin-ups dared to replace this object of nationwide lust with some cartoon character:

Even without such a damning piece of logic, the judge continued, Sivero’s case is without merit. “Even if Mr. Sivero’s face was on this, as long as it is parody you can’t win.” That seems to put an end to Sivero’s dreams of a rich payday because he was part of a mishmash of various gangster-movie icons The Simpsons spun into its beloved coterie of Springfield mobsters. Nonetheless, let’s look at the breakdown of just why he felt he was deserved $250 million, because it’s worth noting:

The actor and his attorney asked for $50 million in damages for loss of the Sivero’s likeness, another $50 million in actual loss for “improper appropriation of Plaintiff’s confidential idea”, $50 million more in exemplary damages and $100 million for “improper interference.”

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Yes, the cherished principles upon which this country was based had been tampered with, in the eyes of Frank Sivero. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and those other guys who should probably also be filing lawsuits against The Simpsons hadn’t fought and then died of old age just so that Frank Sivero could be the victim of “improper interference.” The struggle against Big Animation continues.

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