Ramones Movie Lawsuit: Joey’s Brother Blasts ‘Flimsy’ Case From Johnny’s Widow Over Netflix Biopic

Joey Ramone‘s brother is fighting back against a lawsuit filed by Johnny Ramone’s widow over a planned Netflix movie about the pioneering punk band, calling the case “baseless and flimsy” and filing his own countersuit against her.

Johnny’s wife (Linda Cummings-Ramone) sued Joey’s brother (Mitchel Hyman, better known as Mickey Leigh) in January over allegations that he had “covertly” developed an “unauthorized” biopic, believed to be Netflix’s announced moving starring Pete Davidson as Joey. In the lawsuit, Linda said that any “authoritative story of the Ramones” would require her sign-off.

But in a sharply-worded response filed last month, Mickey’s attorneys argued that Linda had, in fact, already greenlit such a movie many years ago – and that her “baseless” lawsuit was simply one more step in a years-long plan to “install herself as the Queen of the Ramones.”

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“Ms. Cummings-Ramone’s main purpose is to embarrass, harass, and destroy the integrity of Mr. Hyman, create an utterly false narrative about him, rewrite her role in the history of the Ramones, and win a popularity contest in which, in her mind, she takes over … the legacy of a band of which she never was a member and had nothing to do with creatively,” Mickey’s lawyers wrote in the March 15 filing.

A representative for Linda did not immediately return a request for comment on Wednesday.

Joey (real name Jeffrey Ross Hyman) and Johnny (real name John William Cummings) were not actually brothers, and they had a notoriously chilly relationship during their decades as bandmates. In the years since the two passed away, that feud has seemingly continued between Mickey and Linda.

As the executors of Joey and Johnny’s respective estates, Mickey and Linda each own half of Ramones Productions Inc., the holding company that controls the band’s music and other assets. But that partnership has not gone smoothly, featuring multiple lawsuits and arbitrations over the past decade.

The latest legal scuffle was triggered in part by the plans for a movie version of I Slept With Joey Ramone, Mickey’s 2009 memoir, which Netflix announced in April 2021. In her January lawsuit, Linda said that such a project would need the sign-off of Ramones Productions and not just Joey’s estate.

“Ms. Ramone objects to defendants’ attempt to create a Ramones film without her involvement — not to be obstinate, but rather based on defendants’ disregard for [Ramones] assets and their conduct and treatment of Ms. Ramone and her late husband,” Linda’s attorneys wrote at the time. “To permit defendants alone to tell the authoritative story of the Ramones would be an injustice to the band and its legacy.”

But in his recent response, Mickey argued that the planned movie is about him and his brother, and is “not intended to be a ‘Ramones movie’ or a Ramones biopic.” And he pointed to a 2006 agreement in which he argued that Linda had already granted her approval to a film based on the I Slept With Joey Ramone book: “Ms. Cummings-Ramone did consent to Defendants’ development and production of a motion picture,” Mickey’s lawyers wrote.

In a copy of the alleged agreement filed in court, Ramones Productions granted approval to a company called Rosegarten Films to produce a movie based on the then-unpublished memoir. It’s unclear if that specific company is involved in the currently-planned film, but television and film producer Rory Rosegarten was listed an executive producer when Netflix announced the movie in 2021.

In a statement to Billboard on Wednesday, Mickey echoed his argument that the movie was not going to be about the Ramones as a band.

“The fact is, I did not write ‘I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Punk Rock Family Memoir’ about my brother’s band and had no intention whatsoever of doing that,” he said. “I wrote a story about growing up with a big brother who endured a severe somatic malady at birth, and later developed neurogenic problems. That led to doctors making diagnoses that he would never be able to function on his own in society — and that big brother, with support from his family, proved those doctors wrong as he went on to do great things with his life and become an inspiration to millions.”

The recent court filings came as part of Mickey’s so-called answer to the Linda’s lawsuit, denying the many accusations leveled against him in her lawsuit. Along with it, he filed his own counterclaims against her, arguing that it was Linda who had actually breached their partnership agreement with a “pattern of egregious conduct.”

The counterclaims set the stage for potentially years of litigation over Linda and Mickey’s back-and-forth accusations. Just like Linda’s original lawsuit, Mickey’s new case covers a wide range of alleged wrongdoing in their joint management of the Ramones assets well beyond just the proposed movie.

“She is driven by an alternate agenda, including her own fame and vanity, as well as a self-serving desire to obstruct projects and control RPI for reasons which conflict with her fiduciary duties and cause her to avoid any modicum of cooperation with Mr. Hyman,” Mickey’s lawyers wrote.

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