Families of the Mafia is currently under fire for copyright infringement. Spyglass Media Group, the company that acquired the Weinstein Company and subsequently the VH1 series Mob Wives, sent a cease-and-desist to MTV after the recent release of the new mafia-inspired series.
The only glaring similarities between the two shows are Karen Gravano’s involvement and the mafia-related content, causing fans to wonder if the cease-and-desist is valid — is there a difference between Mob Wives and Families of the Mafia?
MTV’s new show ‘Families of the Mafia’
MTV briefly ran a series called Made in Staten Island, which had a similar focus to Families of the Mafia — mafia-tied parents trying to prevent their kids from getting caught up in mafia-related activity. Made in Staten Island starred many of the same families pictured in the new MTV series, including Gravano, her daughter Karina, and her friends.
After three episodes, Made in Staten Island was canceled. The Staten Island community started a Change.org petition calling the show out for misrepresenting Staten Island “as a cesspool of gangsters, meatheads and low lives.” Petitioners wanted the series removed from the air or to at least have Staten Island removed from the title of the series.
It looks like MTV went for the latter, having moved forward with Families of the Mafia. The renamed series has a similar premise to Made in Staten Island, following four Staten Island families who have connections to the mafia.
Remember ‘Mob Wives?’
Mob Wives debuted on VH1 in 2011, documenting the lives of Staten Island women with ties to Mafia-related crimes. Gravano starred alongside Renee Graziano, Drita D’Avanzo, Big Ang, Carla Facciolo, Marissa Fiore, and Brittany Fogarty.
Gravano was one of the most controversial roles on Mob Wives and often at the center of the drama because of her father’s notoriety as a rat.
Throughout the show’s run, the star’s children slowly started to become part of the storyline. In the last season of Mob Wives, Gravano spent her time working as a “momager” for her daughter’s budding modeling career. At the time, Gravano was also crusading to get her father released from prison.
The series ran for six seasons, ending in 2016. Families of the Mafia began filming in 2017 when Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano was released from prison.
Is ‘Families of the Mafia’ different from ‘Mob Wives’?
A source told Page Six that MTV was sent a cease-and-desist letter from the company that owns the rights to Mob Wives, which was initially produced by VH1. The letter addressed the issue of copyright infringement, considering the similarity in theme, content, and cast of each series.
VH1 formerly had ties to the Weinstein Company, which went bankrupt after Harvey Weinstein’s sex-crimes scandal. Lantern Entertainment bought the company in 2018, and then teamed up with former MGM CEO Gary Barber to create Spyglass Media Group. Spyglass currently owns the rights to all of Weinstein’s properties, including Mob Wives.
Neither MTV nor Spyglass have commented on the legal matter. According to Gravano, “Mob Wives focused on the women. [‘Families of the Mafia’] focuses on the parents raising their kids. It’s a multigenerational show that really comes full circle when you see the struggles the parents come from and wanting the kids to do better and learn from their mistakes.”
On the surface, the shows do seem to have their differences, especially in terms of their over-arching plot points. Families of the Mafia focuses on the kids, but the adults get plenty of screen time, too. The lines really get blurry when it comes to the drama between the adults on Families of the Mafia — something that Mob Wives was known for.
Stay tuned for more updates on this lawsuit.