Samantha Barbash, the inspiration behind Jennifer Lopez‘s character in the film Hustlers, is suing J-Lo’s production company for $20 million, according to court papers obtained by the New York Post.
Barbash, a 47-year-old former strip club hostess, pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy, assault and grand larceny charges after she, Roselyn Keo, and two other colleagues were accused of drugging men and stealing at least $200,000 from them.
The lawsuit alleges that Lopez’s company, Nuyorican Productions, used Barbash’s likeness in the film, without her permission.
“The film depicts Ms. Barbash, played by Jennifer Lopez (“JLO”) as the ringleader of a group of adult dancers who drugged their patrons and stole exuberant [sic] amounts of money from them while in their incapacitated state,” according to the lawsuit. “Defendants did not take caution to protect the rights of Ms. Barbash by creating a fictionalized character, or by creating a composite of characters to render JLO’s character a new fictitious one; rather they engaged in a systematic effort to make it well-known that JLO was playing Ms. Barbash.”
“Anyone who views the film will believe Plaintiff to be an individual of little to no moral or ethical values, devoid of any loyalty to her colleagues, under the influence of hard drugs, and with misandrist tendencies,” the court documents further claim.
The complaint names STX Financing, Gloria Sanchez Productions, Pole Sister LLC, Nuyorican Productions and various John and Jane Does as defendants — but not Lopez herself.
Barbash is also demanding producers cease release of the film, which came out in September, and turn over all copies and promotional material.
As of Tuesday, Hustlers has grossed $157.4 million worldwide, with J-Lo generating serious Oscar buzz for her role as Barbash.
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