Happy Days Cast Sues CBS Over Merchandising Revenue
Anson Williams, Don Most, Marion Ross, Erin Moran
The Happy Days cast is decidedly unhappy about not winning the jackpot on merchandise using their likenesses on slot machines, comic books, lunch boxes and other collectibles.
Erin Moran, Donny Most, Marion Ross, Anson Williams and the estate of the late Tom Bosley claim that CBS, which owns the show, hasn't paid them money they're owed under their contracts, CNN reports. Their attorney, Jon Pfeiffer, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
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"The issue is the five cast members of Happy Days were not paid for the royalties for their name and likeness," Pfeiffer told CNN. "That being the use of their picture, use of their name in slot machines, in games, in greeting cards, in t-shirts, anything where you saw a Happy Days face of a character, they were not paid for that."
Ross shared how she first heard about her face being used in a casino: "The other day someone came up to me and said, 'You must be cleaning up on those casinos. If you get five Marions, you get the jackpot.'"
According to the contracts, the actors are supposed to be paid 5 percent from the net proceeds of merchandise if their sole image is used, and 2-1/2 percent if they are featured in a group. The studio could deduct half off the top as a "handling fee."
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In a statement to CNN, CBS said, "We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue." Documents sent to the actors claim that CBS only owes them between $8,500 and $9,000 each for the last four years, but the actors claim they're owed millions. They also say that this is the first time that actors from such an iconic show have sued over merchandising.
Bosley, who played patriarch Howard Cunningham, died last October, but left Most a voice mail message just two days before he passed.
"He was upset with what this represented and he wanted to know," Most said. "He called me, and I called him, and he left a message on my machine that said, 'I'm fine, I'm going to be leaving the hospital tomorrow. But I'd really like to hear what's going on.'"
Former co-stars Ron Howard and Henry Winkler are not part of the lawsuit. Happy Days, a sitcom that idealized the 1950s and '60s in Milwaukee, Wis., ran from 1974-1984.
Check out the rest of the CNN story: