Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Goodfellas actor sues The Simpsons for allegedly stealing his likeness

Illustration for article titled Goodfellas actor sues The Simpsons for allegedly stealing his likeness

When Goodfellas actor Frank Sivero found out The Simpsons had a character that resembled him, he was frozen so stiff it took 23 years to thaw him out enough to file a lawsuit, apparently. In a story that promises to be the Lufthansa heist of quotes for fans of both that film and The Simpsons, Sivero—who played mumbling Mafioso Frankie Carbone in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster epic—is now suing Fox Television, arguing that the show’s Fat Tony hechman Louie is clearly modeled on Sivero’s Goodfellas character. Sivero is seeking $250 million in recompense, or a whole lot of dingamagoo.


According to the suit, Sivero says that in 1989 he was living next door to writers of The Simpsons in the same Sherman Oaks apartment complex, where they were fully aware he was developing his Goodfellas character, and were further aware that the character—ostensibly based on real-life gangster Angelo Sepe—was “based on his own personality.” (Personality? Minchia ancora questa ca col personality.) It further argues that Louie, who first popped up in 1991’s “Bart The Murderer” episode, has “appearance and mannerisms” that are clearly modeled on Frankie Carbone—even though it also acknowledges that Dan Castellaneta modeled the voice after Joe Pesci’s character in that same movie.

Nevertheless, Sivero believes the resemblance is so great that his rights have been infringed upon ever since, having “diluted the value of the character created by plaintiff, and contributed to the ‘type-casting’” of Sivero—who’s been playing street toughs and gangsters since his earliest roles in The Godfather movies. Indeed, who knows what sort of acting opportunities he’s been denied, based solely on this occasionally glimpsed cartoon character and 40-plus years of film work?

Continuing the lawsuit equivalent of playing 528 for three years (which ain’t even close to being 460), Sivero also claims he once had a conversation with Simpsons producer James L. Brooks in 1996. As for what the fuck that’s got to do with anything, Sivero says Brooks allegedly told him they would “do something together” sometime, and that he would be “part of the future” of The Simpsons. Instead, Frankie once again found himself in the proverbial meat truck, his “future” put into the deep freeze, while he says Brooks and his cronies were “simply studying him further for the character Louie,” and seeing what else they could steal to flesh out their thinly sketched, generic wiseguy stereotype. Fox has yet to respond the charges, presumably waiting until just the right moment to send Sivero that clip of Roger Meyers Jr. arguing that animation is built on plagiarism.

The lawsuit is actually the second of its kind to be filed by Sivero this year: Over the summer, he sued the Deli Belly in Southern California for using his likeness to promote its “Frankie Carbone Sandwich.” That suit did succeed in getting his likeness pulled, though it’s unclear whether Sivero also got the makers of the sandwiches to chop ’em up. I thought he said chop ’em up? You dizzy motherfucker you, etc.