The Ramones are suing Pete Davison & Netflix for lack of approval

The Ramones: their simplicity was genius, their melodies catchy as candy, and their spirit pure, unadulterated punk rock royalty

We love The Ramones, not just for their leather jackets, buzzsaw guitars, and anthems about teenage angst that make us wanna dance even decades later, but also for showing us that three chords and a shout can change the world.

However, The Ramones haven’t graced a stage in two decades, and currently, their legacy seems to be entangled in a legal battle.

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Credit: Twitter

Linda Ramone, widow of guitarist Johnny, has filed a lawsuit against Mickey Leigh, Joey’s brother, accusing him of “developing an unauthorized Ramones-based biopic in secret.”

This legal clash appears to be fuelled, at least in part, by the upcoming movie adaptation of “I Slept With Joey Ramone” — Leigh’s 2009 memoir described as “an enduring portrait of a man who struggled to find his voice and of the brother who loved him.”

Netflix announced the film project in April 2021, with Pete Davidson set to co-write and star as Joey, and Jason Orley selected to direct.

While Netflix claims that the film, still in its early developmental stages in 2024, would be crafted with “the cooperation and support of the Estate of Joey Ramone,” Linda’s recent lawsuit challenges this narrative. She insists that such a cinematic venture necessitates approval not only from Joey’s estate but also from Ramones Productions, challenging the authority to greenlight the project solely through Joey’s estate, as stated in the lawsuit filed this week.

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The lawsuit, filed on January 21st, questions the legitimacy of Leigh’s proposed film based on his memoir “I Slept With Joey Ramone.” Although it avoids naming Davidson’s project directly, it casts a shadow over the comedian’s planned portrayal of Joey.

The core of the dispute revolves around ownership. With most Ramones members gone, Linda and Mickey jointly control the band’s intellectual property through Ramones Productions, Inc. Linda argues that any Ramones film requires her approval, emphasizing her commitment to preserving the band’s “true story.”

However, this legal squabble is just the latest chapter in an ongoing saga. Linda and Mickey have a history of acrimony, including clashes over licensing, company dissolution, and attempts to force Linda to sell her shares. Her lawyers paint a bleak picture of Leigh and his associates, alleging a willingness to let the Ramones’ legacy “decay for personal gain.”

This isn’t the first time a potential Ramones movie has become mired in controversy. In 2018, Leigh accused Linda of copyright misuse, leading to arbitration that restricted her use of the Ramones name but hinted at a possible movie uniting the warring factions. Tensions flared again in 2023 when Linda attempted board changes, prompting Leigh to file a counter-suit to halt arbitration.

As the legal decibels rise, the fate of Davidson’s biopic hangs by a thread. This lawsuit highlights the complex dynamics surrounding their legacy and the power struggle within Ramones Productions, Inc. While the Ramones may be united in their musical impact, their story beyond the stage remains a discordant melody of fractured relationships and conflicting visions.

Whether this legal tussle ultimately silences the biopic or paves the way for a unified Ramones narrative remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure: this courtroom clash is far from over, and the reverberations will be felt by fans, filmmakers, and the Ramones’ legacy for years to come.