It Ain’t Easy Being Yellow: ‘Goodfellas’ Actor Loses Likeness Suit Over ‘Simpsons’ Mafioso Character Louie

On Thursday, August 7, the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of Fox Television Studios, Inc. with regards to a likeness suit brought by “Goodfellas” actor Frank Sivero.  Sivero brought the suit back in October 2014, alleging that the TV show “The Simpsons” infringed his right of publicity with its character Louie.

Sivero had claimed that he created his “Goodfellas” character in 1989, during which time he shared an apartment complex with the writers of “The Simpsons.”  He argued that after he told them about his character, the writers took the idea and created their own character, Louie.  Speficially, Sivero alleged that the executive 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.”

Judge Rita Miller, however, granted Fox’s motion to strike Sivero’s complaint, finding that the character was protected by the First Amendment.  Judge Miller was very candid during her decision, questioning whether the two characters were even similar beyond having the same hair and asking, “[i]f I were a teenage girl and I had a crush on your client, would I be happy with a poster of this character, Louie?”

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