Sofia Vergara sued by Griselda Blanco’s family for using her image without permission

Sofia Vergara is starring as the late, real-life former drug lord Griselda Blanco in the upcoming Netflix series Griselda. Blanco, who was also known as the “Cocaine Godmother,” immigrated to Miami, Florida from Colombia in 1964. She began a successful cocaine operation that led her to reign over the Miami drug trade. (Note to anyone who has read The Thursday Murder Club series: I know they are nothing alike, but now whenever I read about a cocaine Queenpin, I can only picture Connie in my mind, lol.)

The first of six episodes of Griselda was set to drop on Thursday, January 25. Vergara, who is also a producer, has been heavily promoting the series. However, this premiere date is now in jeopardy because Netflix and Vergara are being sued by Blanco’s family for using their image and likeness without permission. Her last surviving son, named – I kid you not – Michael Corleone Blanco alleges that he’d been sharing stories with parties interested in giving his mom’s story the Hollywood treatment up until 2022. According to Mikey C, Netflix told him that they wouldn’t use any of these stories. They did anyway. Oops!

In the lawsuit, Blanco’s son reportedly said that he’d been shopping around his and his mother’s life stories since 2009 in the hopes of developing them into a production. Netflix expressed interest during that time, he said. The son, who has previously shared tales about his mother in multiple public interviews, alleged that the streamer said it wouldn’t utilize any of his anecdotes. But the upcoming series heavily relies on them anyway, he claimed, adding that he did not receive any compensation.

According to the lawsuit, the Blanco children are seeking a court injunction to prevent the show’s release. Representatives for Netflix and Vergara did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s requests for comment.

Vergara recently sat down with ET to discuss her portrayal of Blanco, describing her as “a complex person.”

“There are so many nuances to explore in terms of who she was as a drug lord and, of course, as a woman, as a mother,” said Vergara, who herself is Colombian. “She was someone who did whatever it took to protect her family. I really wanted to explore that from the point of view of, you know, of her being one of the only women in history to have gone as far as she did.”

Blanco was reportedly one of the first Colombian women to traffic cocaine into the U.S. She spent years behind bars for drug trafficking and three murders. But some suspected that she was linked to dozens more killings, if not hundreds.

Blanco was also a focus of 2006’s cult-classic documentary “Cocaine Cowboys.” She was shot dead in 2012.

[From HuffPo]

I’m always kinda struck by these types of lawsuits. Well, not the lawsuits themselves, but by the fact that production companies will use images or personal stories about their subject without the necessary permission. On one hand, wouldn’t it be easy enough to write a check and get permission? But on the other hand, is there any kind of legal document that Michael Blanco should have signed ahead of time to make sure Netflix didn’t do him dirty? I think US copyright laws probably would indicate that Michael gave permission by consenting to the interview because nothing he said was copyrighted, but I’d love to hear more about this area of law from any experts out there. I do know that companies will steal ideas from people they interview from jobs and, other than not just answering those types of interview questions, there’s not much you can do about it. Either way, I have a feeling that Michael and Netflix will probably work something out that (hopefully) fairly compensates him. Griselda sounds like she was a fascinating and powerful woman who is about to gain a whole new generation of notoriety.

Photos credit: Netflix Press

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13 Responses to “Sofia Vergara sued by Griselda Blanco’s family for using her image without permission”

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  1. Genevieve says:

    They’re going to have to work hard to surpass Drunk History’s version.

  2. Concern Fae says:

    Due to the First Amendment, you can make a story about a real person as long as it isn’t libelous. Without that freedom, victims would never be able to tell their stories, you wouldn’t be able to write a memoir, because that necessarily involves other people. Griselda is also a public person, which makes libel laws harder to invoke. She was also a drug kingpin, so hard to libel.

    Where Netflix may be in trouble is listening to his story pitch and going ahead with the story anyway without him. If he’s written anything, he has copyright on that and they’d be infringing on that. It will be interesting to see what he pitched and when. There is certainly enough material out there about her to make a movie without his involvement. But if he tried to sell, they said no, and then they went forward, they could be in trouble.

  3. Nubia says:

    I think some people wait until something is completed or a ‘hit’ then come out with a lawsuit. Why approach something when its mearly in production or allegedly being ripped off.

  4. BlueSky says:

    OMG! I love the TMC books! Yes you are right! Connie is hilarious! Now I will be associating her with Griselda!

  5. BeanieBean says:

    ‘Michael Corleone Blanco’, gotta love it. I hope this is allowed to stream because I’m in based on that alone!

  6. Jugebair says:

    This son, Michael Corleone Blanco, was also the “star” of MTV’s “Cartel Crew” which was trying to do a “Black Ink Crew”-style show on now-adult kids whose parents where in the 80s drug trade. His adult life is about marketing his mother – he had a clothing line with her face on everything. It was …..something.

  7. Ameerah M says:

    Griselda Blanco was a monster who caused a lot of pain to a lot of people. She murdered whole families. I’m really more annoyed that this series will get the Dahmer treatment and people will start seeing her as some sort of folk hero. When in actuality she was a murderous sociopath.

    • SarahCS says:

      I don’t know anything about her or her crimes but I’ve never understood the fascination with making films and tv programs about criminals, it must be so hard for the victims and their friends and families never mind the risk of glamorising the criminal.

  8. Oswin says:

    I love how a drug trafficker likely responsible for dozens (hundreds?) of murders is called a fascinating and powerful woman, instead of the violent criminal she was. 🙄

  9. LynnInTx says:

    Why is Sofia Vergara being sued alongside Netflix? Is she executive producer of it or something? If not, is he suing all the other actors involved in the production? Otherwise, that seems really weird to me, and more like a money (and publicity) grab.

    • Oswin says:

      @LYNNINTX — Sofia is an executive producer of the movie, that’s why she’s part of the lawsuit.

  10. J says:

    Our public discourse would be pretty awful if we couldn’t talk and tell stories about public figures and noteworthy people