Barbash, 47, who reportedly was an inspiration for the movie’s heroine, claims Lopez’s company Nuyorican Productions “exploited” her likeness in the film without her permission, according to her Manhattan federal court defamation lawsuit filed Tuesday. According to the suit, she had previously refused to sign any of the consent waivers offered to her by the filmmakers, so they used her likeness without obtaining one.
“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 amounts of money from them while in their incapacitated state,” the lawsuit reads. “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.”
The suit notes that Lopez’s character even replicate images of Barbash printed in The New York Post — including her giving two middle fingers to photographers as she left court – Barbash was accused of drugging and blackmailing her rich clients. She was sentenced to five months probation in 2017 after pleading guilty to conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny.
“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 papers read.
The complaint names STX Financing, Gloria Sanchez Productions, Pole Sister LLC, Nuyorican Productions and various John and Jane Does as defendants — but not J. Lo herself. She is also demanding producers cease the release of the film, which came out in September, and turn over all copies and promotional material.