“The Simpsons” actor Hank Azaria is suing fellow thespian Craig Biergo over the rights to a character Azaria voiced for a “Funny Or Die” skit.
Azaria, best known for his voices on the “Simpsons,” including Chief Wiggum, Apu and Moe, said in a lawsuit that Bierko falsely claimed he created the sportscaster character Jim Brockmire.
Azaria used the character in a “Funny Or Die” back in 2010, and said Brockmire was so warmly received that he is in discussions to make a movie based on the character, Reuters reported.
In his lawsuit, Azaria says that Bierko claimed to have either created the character himself or in collaboration with the “Simpsons” actor. Azaria said that either way, he created the character himself and claimed to develop it more than 25 years ago.
Azaria said Bierko’s claims have made it difficult to go forward with the movie project.
“Bierko’s claim has created a cloud over the rightful ownership of the Azaria voice,” the complaint says, Bloomberg reported. “Would-be financiers and possible licensees of the asset would have valid doubts as to who is the proper copyright holder of the Jim Brockmire character.”
Azaria filed the lawsuit so he could copyright the character and also establish that Bierko was not involved in creating Jim Brockmire, according to Bloomberg.
While the character became a hit after he appeared in a 2010 “Funny Or Die” skit, Azaria claimed to have created Jim Brockmire around 1983 and said he used the character during his college years.
After viewing the skit, Bierko contacted Azaria to tell him that he created the character first, according to Reuters.
The suit described Brockmire as “a colorful baseball announcer who speaks with peculiar speech inflections.” You can view the “Funny Or Die” skit here.
A representative for Bierko, who has starred on Broadway in addition to television and film work, could not be reached by neither Reuters nor Bloomberg.