The producers of "The Simpsons" are being sued for $250 million by an actor who claims that a Mafioso portrayed in the cartoon is based on his character in the film "Goodfellas."
Actor Frank Sivero has filed a lawsuit against the creators of "The Simpsons," alleging that Louie, a member of the Springfield Mafia in the hit cartoon series, is based on his interpretation of the character Frankie Carbone in the 1990 mobster film "Goodfellas."
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. In it, Sivero claims he "is the originator of the idea and character of Louie." "The Simpsons" co-creator Matt Groening, 21st Century Fox and Fox Television Studios are named as defendants in the case.
"Louie" first appeared in the cartoon in 1991 as a Mafioso in the Springfield Mafia run by "Fat Tony." He went on to appear in 15 additional episodes, most recently in April.
The lawsuit claims that in or around 1989, Sivero was living in an apartment complex in Sherman Oaks, California, and was a neighbor of writers for the show. Sivero claims that during this time, they "saw each other almost every other day" and that the writers "knew he was developing the character he was to play in the movie Goodfellas."
Sivero claims the writers were aware that the entire character of Frankie Carbone in the film was created and developed by him. It continues that Simpsons 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."
The lawsuit claims that the show has made over $12 billion from the series, which first aired in 1989, and from merchandise and various products. Sivero wants a share of the profits derived by the makers of the show for the use of Sivero's "confidential idea" and asks the court to award $250 million in damages.
"The Simpsons' continued use of Sivero's image and likeness for commercial purposes are all done without Sivero's consent and without compensating Sivero," the lawsuit continues, adding that the actor "continues to suffer severe financial damages in the form of lost income."
When approached by other media, Fox Broadcasting Company, which airs "The Simpsons" in the U.S., refused to comment.