Sofia Vergara and Netflix have been hit by a lawsuit by Griselda Blanco’s estate over the upcoming series “Griselda.”
The suit, filed Wednesday in Florida, seeks a court injunction to block the release of the miniseries, which is currently scheduled for a Jan. 25 premiere, due to alleged unauthorized use of the family’s image and likeness.
The series, which stars Vergara as Griselda Blanco, follows the infamous cartel leader known widely as “the Godmother” as she rises through drug trafficking ranks in 1980s Miami. Vergara serves as an executive producer for the series.
While the suit does not contend with the depiction of Blanco, whose notoriety establishes her as a public figure, Blanco’s children, who act as the representation for the Blanco’s estate, allege that details surrounding their image and likeness were used in the Netflix series without consent nor compensation.
Prior to “Griselda” landing at Netflix, Blanco’s son, Michael, had participated in interviews with individuals seeking to develop his mother’s story into a potential series or book, per the suit, beginning as early as 2009 and extending through 2022. By 2016, the individuals said they would be shopping the project around.
Netflix subsequently expressed interest in the project, but the suit alleges the entertainment giant said it would not incorporate any information from his interviews into the show.
Despite Netflix’s stance, the suit alleges that the upcoming series utilizes details from the interviews as well as the family’s likeness without their permission.
Representatives for Netflix and Vergara did not immediately reply to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Born in Colombia, Blanco was arrested in 1985 by the DEA for conspiring to manufacture, import and distribute cocaine to the U.S. She was found guilty in a federal trial and served in prison until 2004. In 2012, she was assassinated in Medellín, Colombia while she shopped with her daughter.
In a statement provided to TheWrap, the Blanco family said:
It is beyond dispute that Griselda Blanco made the ultimate decision for Michael Blanco, her son, to carry out and benefit from her life as it relates to artistic and literary productions based on her story. Although Michael Blanco is a public figure himself with his own rights to publicity, Mr. Blanco continues to honor his mother’s executed intent. Since 2008, Michael Blanco has worked extremely hard in the entertainment industry where he conducted numerous interviews and tv shows to tell his story. He is also the outstanding author of the book entitled, “My Mother, the Godmother and the True Story of Michael Corleone Blanco the Son of Griselda Blanco.” He published this book in an attempt to fulfill his mother’s wishes and tell the world the intimate details about his life and that of his mother, Griselda Blanco. It is a compelling story.
Michael Blanco was more than willing to share his hard work and the nonpublic details of his mother’s life with Latin World Entertainment/Netflix if he was to be fairly compensated. Make no mistake, Michael Blanco is humble and thrilled each and every time someone reaches out to shine light on his mother and the Blanco family. However, in the case of Netflix/Latin World Entertainment, the Defendants approached Michael Blanco to gain his work, perspective, and insight to only turn around and act like he does not exist, in an apparent attempt to reap their own profits. It is disappointing that Latin World Entertainment/Netflix would pretend that it is acceptable to use Michael Blanco’s commercial work without his permission.
Common courtesy, consent, and compensation would have amicably resolved the issues with the Defendants and prevented this lawsuit. This lawsuit boils down to the principle of decent respect for an individual and for the applicable laws coupled with the illegal use and/or exploitation of Blanco’s persona, his literary ideas, and his duty concerning his mother’s wishes.
How does one begin to portray or produce a story about the “Godmother” without reflecting her true intentions? Because her intentions were always to remain close and protect her children. Netflix did the opposite.
We look forward to having the Court promptly address our client’s concerns. We should have more information next week as the case proceeds.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.
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