Actor Frank Sivero filed a $250 million lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Fox Television Studios on Oct. 21 alleging that the creators of The Simpsons ripped off his Goodfellas character Frankie Carbone.
The lawsuit obtained by Deadline states that in 1989, Sivero lived in a Sherman Oaks, California apartment complex with the writers of The Simpsons. Sivero reportedly ran into them regularly and they knew he was developing the Italian mob character Carbone for the 1990 crime film.
“They were aware of the entire character of Frankie Carbone, and that THE SIMPSONS character would be based on this character. It was in fact SIVERO who developed the character based on his own,” the legal document reads.
According to Sivero, the producer of the animated series James L. Brooks was also “highly aware” of the fact that Sivero created Frankie Carbone because that’s who he based his Springfield Mafia “wise guy” Louie off of.
“Louie’s appearance and mannerisms are strongly evocative of character actor Frank Sivero, who has played gangster roles in films such as Goodfellas and The Godfather Part II,” the lawsuit continues.
The document states that Louie made his small screen debut in 1991, one year after Goodfellas was released, and that the series has made $12 billion through television syndication, films, and video games. Louie is said to have appeared in more than a dozen episodes of The Simpsons, and now Sivero wants them to pay.
The actor is asking for $50 million for the “loss of his likeness,” an additional $50 million for “improper appropriation of Plaintiff’s confidential idea,” another $50 million for punitive damages, and $100 million for “improper interference.”
The actor said he was promised by Gracie Films that he could collaborate on the making of The Simpsons Movie, but it reportedly never happened. He believes he was lied to by Gracie Films so they could study him to further contribute to Louie’s character.
“Defendants’ infringement and misappropriation of plaintiff’s name and likeness was intentional, deliberate, willful, and/or in reckless disregard of the injuries they would cause the plaintiff,” states the lawsuit.