"Happy Days" cast sues for share of merchandise

TV Arts


'Happy Days' Cast Sues CBS, Paramount for $10 Million
by Alex Ben Block

The cast of the classic sitcom Happy Days isn’t too happy with CBS
Studios and Paramount Pictures, charging in a lawsuit that they have
not been paid for their share of years of home video releases and
licensed merchandise that used their images and voices. The plaintiffs
say they are owed at least $10 million plus interest and possibly

The suit was brought Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Anson
Williams, Marion Ross, Don Most, Erin Moran and Patricia Bosley, who
is executor of the will of her husband the late Tom Bosley.
Ron Howard and Henry Winkler, also stars of the iconic show, are not
part of the suit.

“Happy Days epitomizes what is best in America,” says the opening
salvo of the lawsuit, adding that the actions by CBS and Paramount
“epitomize what is worst in corporate America, exemplifying the worst
business practices.”

The show originally ran on ABC from 1974 until 1984 and has been a
staple in TV syndication and on various cable outlets since. It was
originally produced by Paramount, but after a corporate split in 2005
became part of CBS Studios.

The suit apparently was triggered after a former cast member saw their
images on slot machines at a casino. They had also watched as the show
was repackaged for at least four DVD release in box sets beginning in
2004, again with their pictures on the boxes and in show photographs
used inside, according to the complaint.

The suit says CBS continues to market the brand to merchandisers,
quoting the CBS Consumer Products website as saying that Happy Days
has “strong purchase-intent among women 18-54 and men 18-34.” CBS also
sells related merchandise online with pictures of the cast on
everything from mugs to T-shirts.

All those included in the suit say they had different salaries but the
same contracts when it came to merchandising. Each was to receive a
portion of net proceeds after the studio took 50% off the top as its
handling fee, a practice the suit now questions.

This handling fee, charges the lawsuit, “regardless of actual handling
costs violates defendants business conduct statement and constitutes a
material breach of the implied covenant of good fair and fair deal in
the agreement.”

The suit says that beginning in 2002, Moran (who played Joani
Cunningham on the series) contacted the studio to see if she was owed
money for merchandising but was told none was owed. They say they had
no way to know the truth and only acted after seeing Happy Days slot
machines in casinos.

The suit says the failure to pay breached their contracts and that
CBS/Paramount is “guilty of oppression, fraud and malice." The cast
believes it is entitled to punitive damages as well as at least $10
million in money they believe they are owed plus interest. They are
also seeking to be repaid for their legal costs in bringing the suit.

On the show Williams played Warren ‘Potsie’ Weber, Ross was the mom
Marion Cunningham, Most was Ralph Malph, Moran was Joanie and Bosley
was the father, Howard Cunningham.

In a statement, a spokesperson for CBS Consumer Products responded:
“We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with
them for quite some time to resolve the issue."

Matthew Belloni also contributed to this article.
Once Upon A Time,

Captain Infinity
Are those people suing mad because they were "cheated" out of around $5,000
each? That's the message I got when I caught the last part of a story about
it on Showbiz Tonight last night. They must not have invested wisely.