Sofia Vergara and Netflix are facing legal action from the family of infamous drug kingpin Griselda Blanco, who is portrayed by Vergara in the new Netflix series “Griselda”. Blanco’s family filed a lawsuit on Thursday attempting to halt the release of the show, accusing its creators of profiting from Blanco’s story without authorization.
Blanco Family Claims Show Exploits Griselda’s Image and Life Story
According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Blanco’s son Michael Corleone Blanco and daughter Griselda Blanco filed a petition to temporarily stop the release of “Griselda” until a judge determines if the series is infringing on their mother’s publicity rights under Florida law. The family claims Netflix and show producers are “exploiting the name and image” of Griselda without proper authorization.
They argue that the show, premiering on Netflix on January 25, portrays the Blanco family in a false light, inaccurately depicting real-life events and damaging their reputation and commercial interests. The petition states:
“The series in question portrays Michael Corleone Blanco and his family in a false light, depicting them as drug traffickers, murderers and otherwise criminal and objectionable personas.”
Sofia Vergara Transforms Into Infamous Drug Lord in Controversial New Series
“Griselda” stars Sofia Vergara as the titular character, notorious Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco who pioneered the Miami-based cocaine trade in the 1970s and 1980s. Known as the “Black Widow” and the “Cocaine Godmother”, Blanco was suspected of dozens of murders while heading up the infamous Medellín Cartel.
The six-episode limited series chronicles Blanco’s rise from child criminal to ruthlessly powerful queen pin. Early reviews praised Vergara’s “committed performance” in transforming herself into the brutal cartel leader, worlds away from her comedic role on long-running sitcom “Modern Family”.
|Sofia Vergara as Griselda Blanco in “Griselda” (Credit: Netflix)
But Blanco’s heirs strongly oppose the show’s depiction of their family history. The lawsuit slams Vergara and showrunners Ingrid Escajeda and Doug Miro as “thumbing their nose at the rights” of the Blanco estate by refusing to obtain proper permissions.
Family Demands Halt on Release Less Than One Week Before Launch
With “Griselda” set to launch on January 25, Blanco’s family urgently petitioned a judge to stop the release to prevent further harm. Their lawyer stated:
“We will ask the court to stop this injustice from proceeding forward.”
The last-minute lawsuit puts Netflix and the show’s creative team in a difficult position, forced to respond swiftly to complex legal arguments with their highly-anticipated prestige project on the brink release after years in development.
What’s At Stake for Sofia Vergara’s First Dramatic Lead Role
For Sofia Vergara herself, the lawsuit jeopardizes her passion project which marks a major career milestone after spending 11 seasons on ABC’s “Modern Family”.
“Griselda” is Vergara’s first ever dramatic lead role, requiring her to undergo a drastic physical transformation with extensive prosthetics to inhabit the Black Widow’s intimidating persona. The series was explicitly conceived as a showcase for Vergara to exhibit fierce acting chops beyond her trademark comedic skills.
|Vergara describing Griselda Blanco prosthetic process as “torture”
In multiple interviews, Vergara expressed the exhausting lengths she endured over seven long months shooting under piles of exacting prosthetics in blistering Colombian heat to honor the role of her country’s infamous female antihero. The lawsuit undermines Vergara’s profound efforts by disputing her and the show’s legitimacy to cover such sensitive biographical material without approval.
Vergara also has substantial financial investment in the series, signing on as executive producer. “Griselda” represents a pivotal chance to gain credibility as a serious dramatic actress and Hollywood mogul that could be severely harmed if the show fails to reach audiences due to legal injunction.
Upcoming Court Fight Over Rights to Griselda Blanco’s Story
While urgent, the Blanco family’s case faces steep obstacles in forcing “Griselda” to halt release or make major changes on such abrupt notice. Plaintiffs will need to prove the show egregiously uses Griselda’s name and likeness without justification under the law.
The series’ creators can argue they have artistic license to portray the historic figure and that their fictionalized interpretation serves an important public purpose in dramatizing the dangers of the cartel wars Griselda helped set off. Similar high-profile lawsuits against fact-based dramas rarely succeed in more than extracting after-the-fact financial settlements.
But a lengthy court fight could have wider ramifications if “Griselda” is forced to pull after heavily marketing its January 25 premiere. For Sofia Vergara personally, her producing ambitions and acting career hang in the balance under the punitive scrutiny of a real-life Scarface’s actual family.
This legal battle pits global superstar Vergara against the heirs of cocaine’s most ruthless female kingpin over the right to exploit Griselda’s legacy. As their war heads to court, the truth about who really owns the story of Miami’s Cocaine Godmother will soon come out as judges decide if “Griselda” lives or dies under the cartel’s curse.
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