The Simpsons hit with $250m lawsuit over claims they stole Goodfellas actor's image

Frank Sivero has previously sued a restaurant which named a sandwich after his character

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The Independent Culture

Fox executives might find themselves using the stereotypically gangster phrase "Are you a wise guy, or what?" this week.

In what could be a parody in itself, Goodfellas actor Frank Sivero is suing the studio behind The Simpsons for a whopping $250m.

The actor alleges that The Simpsons character Louie from the Springfield Mafia is based on his character Frankie Carbone from the 1990 film Goodfellas.

The actor, who has a good line in mobsters having also appeared in The Godfather Part II, is claiming damages of $250 million, alleging his likeness to the cartoon character infringes California’s publicity rights law.

The 13-page lawsuit states Louie’s “appearance and mannerisms are strong evocative of character actor Frank Sivero”.

It also claims that actor Dan Castellaneta, who voices Louie, “modelled his voice after Italian American Actor Joe Pesci who also had a role in Goodfellas”.

Sivero alleges that he was living in an apartment block next to the writers of The Simpsons in California in 1989, who he claims knew he was developing the character he was to play in the Goodfellas film.

The lawsuit goes even further to claim that Sivero was falsely courted by the show’s makers as a way of studying his mannerisms for the character Louie.

It alleges that Sivero was asked by James Brooks of The Simpsons production company Gracie Films to be “part of [the show’s] future” in 1996 but the discussed role never materialised.

Now Sivero claims that Gracie Films “never intended to make a film with [him], and that they were simply studying further for the character Louie”.

Louie has appeared in over a dozen episodes of The Simpsons since the series began in 1989.

Sivero is suing for $50 million in damages for loss of his likeness, $50 million for actual loss for “improper appropriation of the Plaintiff’s confidential idea”, $50 million in exemplary damages and $100 million for “improper interference”.

The actor is known for being protective of his rights, and sued a restaurant earlier this year over a sandwich named after his Goodfellas character.

Fox has yet to respond to The Independent's request for comment.

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