The Simpsons Sued For Quarter-Billion Over Mobster Inspiration

If the world ever needed a story that puts the tale of a woman that sued Disney for $250m over allegedly stealing her life story to make Frozen into perspective, then one has been provided this week, with news that someone is attempting to sue Fox animated comedy series The Simpsons for the same amount.

the_simpsons_louieIn this instance, the person doing the suing is not from a Peruvian village at the base of a mountain, but someone from a profession that does not exactly short-change its members.

Actor Frank Sivero is making the claim, bizarrely suggesting that his role in 1990 crime movie Goodfellas as “Frankie Carbone” was copied by The Simpsons in the form of Louie, a member of the Springfield Mafia and one of the lead henchman to Fat Tony, with fans of the animated show throughout the years comparing the style and mannerisms of Louie to the Frankie character. Those basic facts, along with the fact that Louie first appeared in the season 3 episode “Bart the Murderer” in 1991, may provide small foundations for his case to go on, but beyond that it seems to be a claim with an extremely low chance of success, considering the show has the easy go-to defense of parody.

But regardless of that kind of observation that someone somewhere has hopefully already made to him, Sivero’s attempts to receive reparations for a side character he portrayed being ‘stolen’ as a minor character will go on, with the lawsuit being filed today (22 October).

The actor claims that he should be entitled to a $250m share of the $12b+ that The Simpsons has made over the years across various platforms, with a 5-claim complaint (available in full here) that suggests The Simpsons producer James L. Brooks at the time 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.”

Fox currently have no comment on the issue, but presumably will have something to say once the laughter dies down, and would presumably not be willing to give up over 2% of the show’s total historical revenue so easily on a very loose claim of plagarisation, an offer they probably can refuse.

Aside from the fact he has waited 23 years to bring this up in court, would there not also be the issue that no matter how much life an actor may have brought to his character on-screen (which Goodfellas is reported to have given its actors great freedom in doing), the job of originally setting the foundations of that character was that of the screen writers? On the off chance Sivero were to win this court case, surely a list of people headed by Nicholas Pileggi and Martin Scorsese would come calling for a slice…

62-year-old Sivero might still have a lot to learn in the industry, it would seem, as you don’t see Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd making any claims against Rick and Morty

FX Drop The Bridge

FX has announced the cancellation of drama series The Bridge, after a runtime of two seasons, but don’t despair fans, it may not be the end of the road for the show.

the_bridge_fx_crimesceneBased on a Danish-Swedish collaborative series (Broen/Bron) of the same name (which can also claim an ‘inspired by’ tag on English-French show The Tunnel/Tunnel), the program focused on Diane Kruger and Demián Bichir, who portrayed detectives working on either side of the USA-Mexico border, primarily a bridge that forms part of the road border between the two.

Whilst this adaptation has received positive reviews through its run since launching in 2013, unimpressive ratings has seen The Bridge go un-renewed by its network, with comparisons being held up against the high-performing likes of American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy. It is not quite the end of the road for the show, though, as production company Shine America have made a claim that they are now taking the format to other potential suitors on the network market, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

An official Shine statement on the matter noted: “We thank our partners at FX for their tireless efforts in developing and launching The Bridge with us. From its fresh, unique voice to its deep and diverse ensemble cast, this is a series that we are all very proud of.”

So now it’s just up to a few Seth MacFarlane sketches to steal their thunder for a while…

TLC Take British Inspiration For Love Lust or Run

The cable network TLC has long since lost its original meaning of ‘The Learning Channel’, but onlookers will still be a little surprised at their moves into the popular ‘adapt a British TV concept‘ trends, with the news that they are to be providing a localised remake of reality show Snog Marry Avoid? for their network.

snog_marry_avoid_bbcThe BBC is known worldwide for its committment to quality, but locals will know that they still very much dabble with what appears on paper as the lower end of the spectrum, with their 2008 BBC Three show, set for a 7th season to premiere before the end of the year, often readily cited the reasons that the soon-to-be online-only BBC Three channel was the one most likely on the broadcaster’s roster to make the switch from broadcast schedules.

The format, created by Remarkable Television, follows a number of men and women who have ‘extreme’ tastes in fashion before calling in members of the opposite sex to determine which of the more natural-looking group would be snogged, married, or avoided by them based on appearance. The participants are then given a celebrity-inspired or show-suggested ‘make-under’, and re-introduced to people they know and the earlier critics, generally to positivity.

In spite of the name and giving publicity to the kind of people that would not look out of place on TLC, the BBC’s production and self-improvement angle has been received fairly positively by audiences and critics (to the point where it may move to BBC One after the BBC Three online switch), and will be something that the American network hope to replicate with their adaptation, titled Love, Lust or Run?. The adaptation joins similar versions created in Germany (Love Date or Hate – die ehrlichste starstyle-rubrik der welt), Italy (Dire, Fare, Baciare Italia), and Russia (Kosmeticheskiĭ remont). A sample clip of what Americans might have to expect from the ‘before’ part of the show can be seen below:

Produced by Endemol’s True Entertainment, TLC has commissioned a total of 12 half-hour episodes to broadcast as a first season in 2015. And if they ever decide that age limits should not apply to the show, then they will not have to look far for potential contestants:

Bloodline Set To Be The Next Big Original Hit for Netflix

Netflix are the pioneers of original online hit TV shows, and they have announced that the next show coming off the production line is Bloodline, which will be on our screens next March.

Bloodline-NetflixThe 13 episode series is tells of a family living in the Florida Keys and, “centers on a close-knit family of four adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother returns home.”

As is to be expected from Netflix, the show stars a number of big names that includes Kyle Chandler, Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek. The show is produced by Sony Pictures Television, and written and produced by the creators of legal thriller Damages, Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler.

Netflix has had massive commercial and critical success after releasing a raft of original shows that includes House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Hemlock Grove.

And Netflix have revealed new seasons of all their hit shows, and just announced that crime comedy drama Lilyhammer, will release it’s third season on October 29.

And it’s not just TV shows that the streaming company are producing, they recently announced a deal with comedy actor Adam Sandler to bring four exclusive films to the service, and they also revealed plans to premiere the sequel to the Oscar-winning movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Below is a teaser released by Netflix for the new Bloodline show:-

Aereo Banned by Judge From Rebroadcasting Live TV

Aereo have been dealt at least half a dozen blows, but are still (just) standing. And on Thursday they got another kick in the teeth when US judge Alison Nathan banned them from streaming live TV via the web.

Aereo-streaming-TVThe copyright-infringement case which has been brought against Aereo by US broadcasters who want to shut down Aereo’s ‘Watch Now’ service that lets subscribers watch live TV streaming.

Judge Nathan issued a temporary injunction that stops Aereo showing any video to subscribers while it’s still being broadcast. She said in her ruling [PDF] that, “The Supreme Court has concluded that Aereo performs publicly when it retransmits Plaintiffs’ content live over the Internet and thus infringes Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works.”

She continued, “In light of this conclusion, Aereo cannot claim harm from its inability to continue infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights. In addition, in light of the fact that Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits rather than just sufficiently serious questions going to the merits, they need no longer show that the balance of hardships tips decidedly in their favor.”

The news comes after Aereo lost it’s Supreme Court case as well as a number of other appeals and rehearings of the case, which resulted in Aereo voluntarily suspending its service back in June.

The news is not a fatal blow to Aereo as the order is only preliminary and not final, and the ruling only stops streaming of content whilst being broadcast live. The judge refused (for now at least), a plea by the broadcasts to stop Aereo’s DVR service that stores video for viewing on-demand.  She said that will be decided at a later date.

TuneCore Plan To Give Musicians ‘YouTube Money’

The biggest music stars in the world, despite being on red-alert for any pirated copies of their songs that could lose them a little income, do have a structure in place for getting money out of their content with ad-supported music videos on YouTube from companies such as VEVO.

Tunecore-logoThe system works in a similar way beneath VEVO’s level as well, but obviously with less money changing hands on account of lower viewcounts from lower-profile artists. A company looking to change the structure a little, though, and perhaps give a percentage more to all, is established music distribution company TuneCore, who have announced their plans to help their musician clients better capitalise on ‘YouTube Money’.

Generally more experienced in the fields of iTunes, Amazon, and the ‘digital retail’ market as a whole, the company have this week launched a new programme that aims to get artists money out of any ‘unlicensed music use’ on Google’s video-sharing platform. The service will enable users to choose songs that they track on YouTube, with TuneCore then monitoring the site for uses of such music (via YouTube’s copyright-policing smart scans) to find videos that are not licenced to use it, then claiming a portion of any money generated by that video to go to the artist’s TuneCore account.

TuneCore’s CEO Scott Ackerman said of the initiative in an official statement: “As YouTube’s importance as a point of distribution increases, we want to ensure artists are receiving the full benefits. With YouTube Money, we’re confident TuneCore can help artists by collecting the YouTube revenue artists have earned while artists can focus on what’s most important-making music and getting their music out to the world.”

Considered by artists in a recent TuneCore survey to be the third ‘most important platform’ for their music distribution (following iTunes and Spotify), will YouTube Money do for music what YouTube have been doing for video creators and start to see singers ‘own’ the unlicenced editions of their work?