Wednesday, April 20, 2011

'Happy Days' Actors Sue CBS Over Merchandising Revenues

'Happy Days' Actors Sue CBS Over Merchandising Revenues

by Chris Harnick

The cast of 'Happy Days' isn't too, well, happy, with CBS.

Anson Williams, Don Most, Marion Ross, Erin Moran and the estate of the late Tom Bosley are suing CBS over merchandising revenues. According to CNN, the actors claim CBS has cut them out of money they are owed for products such as T-shirts, comic books, dolls and DVDs.

The cast is suing for $10 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Henry Winkler and Ron Howard are not part of the suit.

The actors say that under their contracts, they were supposed to be paid 5 percent of the net proceeds if their sole image appeared on the product and 2.5 percent if their image appeared in a group.

Jon Pfeiffer, the attorney for the 'Happy Days' actors, said he expects to file a lawsuit against CBS today.

"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."

CBS told the actors that they are owed between $8,500 and $9,000 for the last four years, most of the revenue coming from 'Happy Days' slot machines that bear their likenesses. However, the actors claim they are owed millions of dollars.

More 'Happy Days' products are being prepped to launch, including a lottery game.

According to Pfeiffer, attempts at mediation between his clients and CBS have failed.

"We agree that funds are owed to the actors," CBS told CNN via an emailed statement, "and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue."

'Happy Days' debuted in 1974 and lasted for 11 seasons, airing 255 episodes before its 1984 finale. The show was responsible for three spinoffs, 'Laverne & Shirley,' 'Mork & Mindy' and 'Joanie Loves Chachi.'

The series has left a lasting impression on pop culture many thanks to Henry Winkler's character, the Fonz. Besides his iconic leather jacket, the Fonz gave the world the term "jumping the shark."

Check out this video of the cast reminiscing during the 30th anniversary special.

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