Ramones relatives’ legal feud threatens to derail Pete Davidson-led Netflix movie

Ramones relatives’ legal feud threatens to derail Pete Davidson-led Netflix movie

Relatives of punk legends the Ramones are dueling in lawsuits – in a long-simmering feud that threatens to torpedo a planned Netflix movie starring Pete Davidson as the band’s iconic singer.

Guitarist Johnny Ramone’s widow, Linda Cummings-Ramone, sparked the latest round of the bitter brawl in January when she sued singer Joey Ramone’s brother Mitchel Hyman and his manager David Frey for allegedly trying to cut her out of the film and the band’s merchandising deals.

But Hyman — who countersued last month — told The Post the movie isn’t a band biopic.

The surviving family members of the iconic punk band the Ramones are locked in a legal battle over the band’s legacy. Michael Ochs Archives

“It’s not a book about the Ramones,” Hyman told The Post of his 2009 memoir “I Slept with Joey Ramone,” which the movie is set to be based on.

“It’s not a Ramones story,” he said of the book, which outlines growing up with the singer who battled debilatating OCD before his 2000 death. “It’s a story about growing up with a guy … who defeated the odds and became an inspiration to millions. That’s what it’s about.”

Hyman and Cummings-Ramone have been locked in legal combat off and on for years over the Ramones and their legacy, which began in Forest Hills, Queens, back in 1974.

That’s when singer Joey (real name: Jeffrey Hyman) and Johnny (real name: John Cummings) launched the band with bassist Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin) and drummer Tommy (Thomas Erdelyi).

The band became one of the most influential groups in rock history, but only Joey and Johnny remained through various lineup changes until the band’s ultimate retirmenent in 1996. All four founders have died.

Despite their huge following and near-mythical status, the Ramones were never a commercial success.

It took 38 years for the band’s April 1976 debut to sell 500,000 copies and go gold — and in October 2022, Joey Ramone’s estate sold a stake of his music publishing rights for $10 million.

Linda Ramone, Mickey Leigh, and Shepard Fairey speak onstage at ‘Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Celebrating 40 Years Of The Ramones’ at The Grammy Museum in 2016. WireImage Mitchel Hyman, who goes by his stage name Mickey Leigh. Brian Zak/NY Post

Right now, Hyman and Cummings-Ramone have split control of Ramones Production, Inc., the company that’s in charge of the band’s work.

Hyman inherited 50% from his mom when she died in 2007, and Cummings-Ramone inherited her half when Johnny died in 2004.

In a Sunday phone interview, Cummings-Ramone told The Post that she was simply trying to protect the band’s legacy.

“This is a very unfortunate situation for Ramones fans, and widows in rock-and-roll — this is very sad, what happens to widows, when someone wants what you have,” she said.

“That’s what I’m trying to do: Protect the Ramones legacy,” she continued. “That’s all. And that was left to me by Johnny Ramone, on his deathbed. Because legacy was the most important thing to him, and the most important thing to me.”

But in their retaliatory lawsuit, Hyman — a musician himself who goes by his stage name Mickey Leigh — and Frey claimed Cummings-Ramone was trying to take over RPI and “install herself as the Queen of the Ramones.”

“Indeed, 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 RPI and the legacy of a band of which she never was a member and had nothing to do with creatively,” the scathing suit said.

“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,” it continued.

Linda Ramone told The Post that she’s trying to protect the band’s legacy. Getty Images

And the Netflix movie — announced in April 2021 — seems to be getting caught in the crossfire.

In her January lawsuit, Cummings-Ramone claimed Hyman and Frey “repeatedly failed to disclose or seek approval from fellow RPI shareholder and Director Ms. Ramone … for the lucrative movie deal Defendants entered into unilaterally, instead seizing that substantial corporate opportunity for their own exclusive benefit.

“To permit defendants alone to tell the authoritative story of the Ramones would be an injustice to the band and its legacy,” Cummings-Ramone said in the papers, adding that it would “damage RPI and Ms. Ramone substantially and irreparably.”

She also claimed Hyman had threatened to leak “compromising private footage” that his brother had of her. Joey Ramone had allegedly dated Cummings-Ramone before she married Johnny Ramone, which created tension within the group in their final years.

Hyman and Frey both denied each allegation.

“There was never a threat with any of that, ever,” Frey told The Post. “That’s a bald-faced lie. And compromising footage? That’s a matter of opinion.”

Hyman at the memorial ceremony for punk rocker Johnny Ramone, who was immortalized with a bronze statue in the Hollywood Forever Cemetary in 2004. Corbis via Getty Images

Meanwhile, Hyman took offense to the idea that they were making a movie behind Cummings-Ramone’s back.

“What is she basing that statement on?” he asked. “What gives her the authority or the inclination to even say that? I couldn’t tell you, because I have no idea.”

Frey echoed this, saying the book and planned movie are family memoirs, not band tell-alls.

“It’s never, ever been presented as a Ramones biopic to anybody,” Frey said — but added that either way, Cummings-Ramone granted the film rights years ago.

“It’s something she signed off on in 2006,” Frey said. “Whether she remembers signing that or not, or what the circumstances were around her signing it — she did sign it. Therefore, she did grant all these rights.”

Pete Davidson is slated to portray Joey Ramone in a movie based off Hyman’s book, “I Slept with Joey Ramone.” GC Images

There is some question about whether the legal dogfight will shock Netflix into running away. But Hyman said he hasn’t heard anything definitive.

“It’s concerning — I guess that’s a safe word for me to use,” he told The Post. “I can’t speak for Netflix. I have a feeling they’re not happy about it. But they haven’t called and said, ‘We don’t like this, we’re done.’”

A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment Sunday.

Representatives for Pete Davidson — who is also listed as a writer and executive producer on the project — did not respond to requests for comment.

The Post has also reached out to Cummings-Ramone’s attorney.

A 1980s portrait of the legendary rockers, who from left to right are Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Ramone and Richie Ramone. Getty Images

Despite the years of infighting, Hyman said he doesn’t think it will put a dent in The Ramones leather-clad legacy.

“The Beatles aren’t any less popular with all the things we’ve heard about them,” Hyman said. “People are still gonna love the songs. I don’t see the legacy being damaged from all these things.

“But you know, it depends on the person,” he continued.

“Some people don’t read this stuff or don’t care. And some people are gossip-mongers who thrive on this s–t.”