The Son of the ‘Godmother of Cocaine’ Sues Over Netflix Show ‘Griselda’

Findlaw reports

Known as the “Godmother of Cocaine” or the “Black Widow” because of the suspicious deaths of her three husbands, Griselda Blanco went from impoverished on the streets of Cartagena, Colombia, to a drug lord smuggling an estimated $2.5 million worth of cocaine into the U.S. every week ($15 million in today’s dollars). She left a trail of bodies in her wake, from rival cartel members to husbands, and even to people she owed a debt to. As ruthless as they came, she was also considered charming but never hesitated to use her enforcers to commit atrocities.

There’s plenty there for a story, which is probably why it’s already been done several times. Catherine Zeta-Jones most recently played her in a Lifetime movie in 2019. But Netflix has more of the “true” story, according to Griselda’s son. That is because he pitched story ideas with two partners around 2009, seeking to turn personal anecdotes and knowledge into a book deal or a Spanish soap opera. Now, he claims in a lawsuit that his partners told Netflix these stories, and Netflix took them without compensation or recognition.

A Public Figure

Blanco’s son, Michael, is not suing to prohibit Netflix from telling the story at all. This is because Griselda Blanco is a public figure. Fictionalized stories of public figures are legal without express permission, although there are rules about using public figures for commercial uses (more on that below).

Instead, Michael argues that Netflix owes him a cut because they are using his material. Michael’s attorney, Elysa Galloway, said in a statement to Rolling Stone that the lawsuit boils down to Netflix/Latin World Entertainment “exploiting” Michael Blanco’s work and literary ideas without compensation. He argues these stories were not public knowledge. Most of what we know of Griselda Blanco’s life comes secondhand, as she managed to avoid a lot of publicity during her lifetime.

Netflix has not publicly responded to the lawsuit but has advertised the show as a fictionalized drama, not a biopic about Griselda. Michael sought an injunction to delay the premier of the series on Netflix, but so far the show is scheduled to air on Thursday, January 25.

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