Moctesuma Esparza, who produced the 1997 Selena movie, claims he owns the rights to the late star's life story

By Benjamin VanHoose
November 12, 2020 09:40 AM
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Suzette and Abraham Quintanilla in 2016
| Credit: Jordan Murph/Getty

Netflix and Selena Quintanilla's family members are being sued over the upcoming Selena TV series.

Moctesuma Esparza, who produced the 1997 Selena movie about the late singer that starred Jennifer Lopez, filed a $1 million lawsuit last week against her father and sister, Abraham and Suzette Quintanilla, as well as the streaming platform, claiming that he owns the rights to her life story but was shut out of the new show, according to TMZ and E! News.

A spokesperson for Netflix did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Selena: The Series, which stars Christian Serratos in the title role, is set to premiere on Netflix in December. Esparza is suing for damages from an alleged breach of contract, claiming he developed an idea for a television treatment of Selena's younger years back in the late '90s, but it was never fully realized.

The legendary superstar was killed in 1995, murdered in a motel in her hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, by Yolanda Saldívar, her fan club's president. The Quintanilla family worked with creator and executive producer Moisés Zamora to develop the new series.

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"Before she became the Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla was a young girl from Texas with big dreams and an even bigger voice," the logline for the show reads. "The two-part coming-of-age drama Selena: The Series explores the once-in-a-generation performer's journey as a young artist, from singing small gigs in Corpus Christi with her family to becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time — and the years of grit and sacrifice the Quintanilla family navigated together before Selena's meteoric rise to fame."

In March, Abraham, 81, opened up to PEOPLE about how the family is keeping Selena's legacy alive. "When Selena passed away, I told my family that I was going to try to keep her memory alive through her music," he said at the time. "And 25 years later I think we, as a family, accomplished that."

"We can be fine, and then someone wants to share where they were when they heard that Selena died, and that’s very difficult," added Suzette, 53. "I have to dig deep in my soul to figure out why. Then I realize it’s their way of sharing, that they feel that connection, they’re sharing that they felt lost."

Part one of Selena: The Series hits Netflix on Dec. 4.