The Academy will never be forgiven for snubbing Jennifer Lopez for her performance in Hustlers, but at least the actor can count one victory for the role.
A federal judge has dismissed a $40 million lawsuit against Lopez’s production company filed by Samantha Barbash, a former adult entertainer whose story inspired Lorene Scarfaria’s 2019 film.
Inspired by Jessica Presler’s New York Magazine article, The Hustlers at Scores, Hustlers follows a stripper who assembles a team of fellow dancers to swindle thousands of dollars from their wealthy clients by drugging them and using their credit cards.
The film was immensely successful, earning over $150 million at the box office. Lopez was also nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award for her performance.
Barbash filed a lawsuit against Lopez’s production company Nuyorican Productions, Gloria Sanchez Productions and Pole Sisters LLC and Hustlers distributor STX, claiming that the film exploited her image and character, according to documents obtained by Entertainment Weekly.
Additionally, she accused the film of defamation in its portrayal of Lopez’s character “using and manufacturing illegal substances in her home where she lived with her child.” Barbash also alleged the film inaccurately claimed that she created the drug cocktail used to incapacitate clients.
The court ruled that though the film portrays Barbash’s life story, it did not use her "name, portrait, picture, or voice”. Barbash’s media interviews promoting the film were also cited as reasons to dismiss the case.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Barbash said that she “wasn’t impressed” with the film but praised Lopez’s performance. She also revealed that she declined to participate in production:
I decided not to because I wasn’t going to give my film rights away. They were trying to pay me a minuscule amount. I’m a businesswoman. J. Lo doesn’t work for free. Why would I? At the end of the day, I have bags that are worth more than what they wanted to pay me.
In 2017, Barbash pled guilty to conspiracy, grand larceny and assault for her involvement in the group’s crimes.
She published her own memoir last year.
indy100 attempted to reach Lopez and Barbash for comment.