Sofia Vergara and Netflix are at the center of a new lawsuit filed by late Griselda Blanco’s children over upcoming limited true crime series “Griselda.”
Lead star and executive producer Vergara is named in the suit that alleges the series uses Blanco’s family’s images and likenesses without proper authorization. TMZ first reported the legal filing. IndieWire has reached out to Vergara’s representatives and Netflix for comment.
Vergara responded to the pending legal claim in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, saying of playing Blanco, “I’m trying to understand her from the beginning. I started from being fascinated by her, because she achieved many things that it was impossible for a woman to achieve, even though they were horrific.”
“Griselda” creator Eric Newman added, “It’s not my first rodeo. The Escobar family made similar claims [for the TV series ‘Narcos’]. We had a very specific story we wanted to tell. I believe we told it, and I don’t think it in any way prevents someone else from telling their own version of it.”
While Blanco is a public figure, the lawsuit claims her children’s likenesses were not authorized to be used in the series without compensation. The adults are acting as representatives of Blanco’s estate. Blanco’s son Michael Blanco additionally alleged he was involved in a series of interviews since 2009 for the purpose of turning his life story into both a series and a book, with plans to shop the show in Hollywood in 2016. Michael Blanco says the interviews continued for more than a decade through 2022.
The Blanco family stated that those projects were discussed with a producer prior to any Netflix contact. Michael Blanco claimed he was told Netflix was interested but that the streaming platform did not want to use any of the details from the interviews he had conducted; the Blanco family alleges “Griselda” does in fact rely on Michael’s material, despite not compensating the family.
“Cocaine Godmother” Blanco died in a motorcycle drive-by shooting in 2012 at age 69.
Michael told Fox News that the series is “disrespectful” to his family. “Sofía Vergara did not consult with any members of the Blanco family as a sign of respect or elicit family details in portraying my mother,” Michael said. “When I learned of the ‘Griselda’ project, my team reached out to Sofia’s camp and offered my consultation services. Sofia’s camp and the Netflix creators were disrespectful and ultimately produced the ‘Griselda’ project on their own for commercial gain, without key details from the Blanco family.”
Michael continued, “After the sit-down at the table, my lawyers formally sent a cease-and-desist letter to Netflix and Sofia’s camp. As of today, Netflix nor Sofia’s camp has made any attempt to reconcile. Regardless of public information, basic respect is warranted. I am Griselda’s only living son that has life rights agreements signed by Griselda herself in which she intended I carry out her life story.”
Netflix series “Griselda” has been in development for eight years at Latin World Entertainment. The first look was released in January 2022. “Black Widow” Blanco was formerly the subject of Lifetime’s 2018 “Cocaine Godmother” biopic, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and written by David McKenna and directed by Guillermo Navarro. Jennifer Lopez was additionally slated to make her directorial debut with true crime drama “The Godmother” in 2020.
“Griselda” is created by “Narcos” showrunners Eric Newman and Andrés Baiz, with Baiz directing all six episodes. The series is written by Ingrid Escajeda and Doug Miro. Per the official series description, “Griselda” is “inspired by the savvy and ambitious Colombian businesswoman, Griselda Blanco, who created one of the most profitable cartels in history. A devoted mother, Blanco’s lethal blend of charm and unsuspected savagery helped her expertly navigate between family and business leading her to become widely known as the ‘Godmother.’”
“Griselda” showrunner Newman explained that playing “Griselda Blanco has long been a passion project for Sofia,” calling Vergara a “brilliant talent.”
Vergara said in a previous press statement, “Griselda Blanco was a larger-than-life character, whose ruthless but ingenious tactics allowed her to rule a billion-dollar empire years before many of the most notorious male kingpins we know so much about.”