A judge Thursday threw out a character actor’s lawsuit against Fox that alleged the character “Louie” in “The Simpsons” was wrongfully adapted from the “Frankie Carbone” role he had in “Goodfellas.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rita Miller agreed with attorneys for 20th Century Fox Film Corp. that Frank Sivero’s lawsuit infringed on the free- speech rights of the studio and the creators of “The Simpsons.”
“Even if Mr. Sivero’s face was on this character, as long as it’s a parody and has certain other characteristics, you can’t win,” Miller told plaintiff’s attorney Alex Herrera.
Silvero stated in a lawsuit filed Oct. 21 that in 1989 he lived in an apartment complex in Sherman Oaks and that the writers of “The Simpsons” resided in the same building. One of the writers, James Brooks, knew Sivero created the role of Frankie Carbone, according to the lawsuit.
“During this time, both writers knew who Sivero was,” the complaint alleged. “They knew he was developing the character he was to play in the movie “Goodfellas,’ a movie Sivero did in 1989. In fact, they were aware the entire character of “Frankie Carbone” was created and developed by Sivero, who based this character on his own personality.”
But attorney Robert Rotstein said the case was a “classic anti-SLAPP situation where the First Amendment applies.”
SLAPP stands for a strategic lawsuit against public participation — a complaint aimed at censoring or intimidating critics by burdening them with costly litigation.
Rotstein stated in his court papers that “Louie” was not based on the Carbone character, but that even if it was, artists “have a right to poke fun at public figures, such as actors and artistic works, such as the films in which (Sivero) has appeared.”
The “Louie” character appeared in 16 episodes of “The Simpsons” for the the first time in 1991.
Herrera said he may appeal. His 63-year-old client, who also appeared in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II,” was not in court Thursday.
—City News Service