The real-life ringleader who inspired the film Hustlers, starring Jennifer Lopez, has filed a lawsuit against the production companies behind the adaptation.
Samantha Barbash—a former club hostess—claims that the film’s star, Ramona (played by Lopez), is based on her and her life story.
The lawsuit states that filmmakers defamed Barbash and tarnished her likeness.
Barbash was actually a hostess, not a stripper.
The movie was based on a 2015 New York Magazine article about a group of women who lured wealthy men into a strip club and proceeded to drug and rob them of their money and credit cards.
Barbash, the alleged main orchestrator of the group was sentenced to five years probation for conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny.
Although Hustlers is a fabricated version of the story. Barbash claims that Lopez’s character is still too similar to herself and her actions.
Filmmakers allegedly attempted to gain consent from the former hostess prior to the film. However, Barbash declined to sign over her life rights.
The suit states that “with blatant disregard for their lack of authority and/or consent, defendants proceeded to exploit Ms. Barbash’s likeness and character for the film and the promotion thereof.”
The film grossed $150 million with a $20 million budget.
Thus, Barbash is seeking $40 million in damages, as well as a permanent injunction that would prevent further production and distribution of Hustlers.
Barbash’s attorney, Bruno V. Gioffre, told Rolling Stone “My client is offended that the defendants used her likeness to make over $150 million, defamed her character and tried to trick her into selling her rights to the production company for a mere $6000.00.”
The defendants include Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions, STX Films, Pole Sisters LLC and Gloria Sanchez Productions.
A spokesperson for STX Films told Rolling Stone, “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.”
Additional defendants have yet to or declined to comment.
What do you guys think about this lawsuit? Is it bogus? Or does Barbash deserve her fair share?
Lastly, let us know in the comments!