Defamation Of Character Is One Reason The Inspiration Of ‘Hustlers’ Is Suing J.Lo’s Production Company
It’s been a crazy few months for Jennifer Lopez who starred in “Hustlers” and earned a Golden Globe nomination for the role and is expected to get an Oscar nod as well. However, the real-life stripper, Samantha Barbash, who helped inspire the film and Lopez’s character, Ramona, won’t be congratulating her anytime soon.
That’s because Barbash is suing Lopez’s film studio Nuyorican Productions, STX Entertainment, Gloria Sanchez Productions, and Pole Sisters LLC, claiming filmmakers defamed her and failed to uphold her civil rights. While Lopez is not specifically named in the lawsuit, her production company is. As of now, she has yet to comment on the lawsuit.
According to TMZ, Barbash is filing a lawsuit for $40 million; $20 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages. She is also asking for a court order that would require producers to turn over all copies of the film. The lawsuit reads that Barbash was contacted by producers of the film multiple times for her consent but ultimately never gave it. Production of the film would go on without her approval.
According to Barbash, the film “Hustlers” is a direct depiction of her and claims that the character Ramona is still too similar to her.
“Hustlers” focuses on the story of Destiny (Constance Wu) who is trying to make ends meet as a club dancer. She becomes friends with a successful dancer, Ramona (Lopez) who takes her under her wing. In the film, the duo partakes in a scam where they take advantage of Wall Street bankers and drug them, eventually taking their money.
The movie was originally based on a 2015 New York Magazine story, “The Hustlers at Scores,” which describes the real-life events of Barbash and her experience as a club stripper at Score’s Gentlemen’s Club in New York. Barbash would eventually plead guilty to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny for her role in the real-life scheme in 2016, serving five years probation. While the film was based on the New York Magazine Story, Barbash claims that the character Ramona is a direct depiction of her.
“Defendants did not take caution to protect the rights of Ms Barbash by creating a fictionalised character, or by creating a composite of characters to render J-Lo’s character a new fictitious one; rather they engaged in a systematic effort to make it well-known that J-Lo was playing Ms Barbash,” the suit reads.
“While we have not yet seen the complaint, we will continue to defend our right to tell factually based stories based on the public record,” STXfilms spokesman Steve Elzer told the LA Times.
This isn’t the first time we hear of a potential lawsuit from Barbash, who has been threatening legal action before the film was released back in September.
Barbash might have planning to file a lawsuit from the very beginning as she spoke to the New York Post about it last April, months before the movie’s September release. She pointed out to the New York Post that she was a hostess and was never a stripper as depicted in the film.
“We’re putting a stop to it because she’s actually misrepresenting me. I was never a stripper. It’s defamation of character,” Barbash said. “It’s my story she’s making money off of,” Barbash fumed. “If she wants to play me, then she should have gotten the real story.”
When the movie was doing its press run, Barbash was interviewed by Vanity Fair about her thoughts on the film. She told the magazine that she “wasn’t that impressed” with “Hustlers.”
“Everyone has been asking, ‘Did I see the movie?’ So I thought, ‘Why don’t I just see the movie,’ because I knew I was going to have a lot of interviews about it this week,” she told Vanity Fair. “I wasn’t really that impressed. I was impressed with Jennifer. She was incredible. Her body looked incredible. She had it down to a tee, but it wasn’t factual.”
While she wasn’t a fan of the movie as a whole, Barbash did give credit to Cardi B’s role in the film ultimately saying that she wished she would have played her character in the movie.
“I love Cardi,” Barbash said. “Her 10 minutes was a great 10 minutes… It’s funny because, when I first heard that the film was coming out, [my business partner] said [she wished] Cardi would have played me. Even though she is not an actress, she was in the strip club world and she gets it. She would have maybe played a better me. Not taking away from Jennifer. But just because Cardi was in the business.”