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Tuning In to TV

- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lawyer: 'Happy Days' suit prompted checks to cast

LOS ANGELES (AP) "Happy Days" cast members who filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against CBS over merchandise profits have received checks for a small fraction of the amount they say they are owed, their attorney said Wednesday.

Lawyer Jon Pfeiffer said the checks received after the case started were between $6,000 and $6,500 for each of the cast members and the wife of the late actor Tom Bosley.

The actors, who include Bosley's on-screen wife Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Don Most and Erin Moran, sued CBS Studios in April seeking more than $10 million in profits for "Happy Days"-themed merchandise. The items marketed with the actors' likenesses include T-shirts, board games and even gambling machines.

An attorney for CBS, Keri Campbell, did not return email and phone messages seeking comment.

After the case was filed, CBS said in a statement that it was aware of the issue and was seeking a resolution. "We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue," CBS' statement read.

Mr. Pfeiffer said that when the payments were sent recently, the studio "claimed that is the full payment for all that was owed." Two prominent members of the 1974-1984 sitcom, Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, are not party to the lawsuit.

Mr. Pfeiffer said he learned after filing the case that Mr. Winkler had been paid for merchandise rights, but he did not know how much.

His comments came after a judge ruled that the actors suing CBS could not pursue fraud claims against the studio without amending their lawsuit to provide further details. Mr. Pfeiffer said he would do that within a month, and the new complaint would have additional information he has learned since filing the initial lawsuit.

Comic-Con kicks off with fans, flicks, costumes

LOS ANGELES (AP) Calling all superheroes, zombies, space aliens, comic-book lovers and kids of all ages: Comic-Con is here.

The pop-culture convention, which annually draws thousands of costumed fans to San Diego, begins Thursday, but the die-hards (and those with weekend-long passes) were to get a peek at the colorful convention floor on Wednesday night.

Hundreds of exhibitors and more than 130,000 guests are expected to pack the San Diego Convention Center for the sold out, four-day event.

"The people who go through those doors, most of them are film fans and fans of pop culture, be it video games or movies or television shows, T-shirts or comic books, it's all part of this big cultural stew," says filmmaker Jon Favreau, who will premiere his latest flick, "Cowboys & Aliens," at Comic-Con. "These are people who normally interact with one another through the Internet... . Then when you finally open it up to meeting in person, it just concentrates that experience."

The blogosphere is already abuzz about some of the offerings at this year's Comic-Con, where Hollywood continues to command a headlining presence.

"Captain America" will play in San Diego for a full day before its nationwide opening Friday, and star Chris Evans is set to introduce the earliest screening. "Cowboys & Aliens" will hold its world premiere at Comic-Con on Saturday - a festival first. Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are coming to the convention to talk about "The Adventures of Tin-Tin"; Sony is offering a peek at "The Amazing Spider-Man"; and the "Twilight" trio - Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson - will again greet their fans at the Con.

TV-wise, "True Blood," "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead" are big draws, while new shows such as "Person of Interest," "Grimm" and "Terra Nova" will present preview footage and introduce their casts in an aim to attract viewers before their fall premieres.

New video games are also expected to score big at Comic-Con, where players can get an early look at sci-fi shooters "Halo" and "Gears of War 3" and the latest "Batman" and "Spider-Man" games.

"Comic-Con is this incredible celebration of the arts, and the arts spans movies, television, video games - which are incredibly artistic now. It's toys, it's collectibles, it is straight comics and graphic novels," says documentarian Morgan Spurlock, who made a movie about Comic-Con and will introduce its companion photo book at this year's festival. "It is this cornerstone of pop culture that has so much influence now."

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