- - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

‘Happy Days’ cast sues over merchandising

Members of the “Happy Days” cast sued CBS Corp. on Tuesday, alleging they’re not getting a cut of the money made in sales of DVDs, lunch boxes, board games and other merchandise related to the television show, the Associated Press reports.

The plaintiffs named in the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court include Anson Williams, Marion Ross, Don Most, Erin Moran and Patricia Bosley, widow of Tom Bosley, who died last year. Two prominent members of the 1974-1984 sitcom, Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, are not party to the lawsuit.

The suit alleged that CBS cheated the plaintiffs out of more than $10 million in revenue from the sale of products featuring their images, including gambling machines, T-shirts, board games, greeting cards and drinking glasses.

The actors claimed their contracts with the show’s producer, Paramount Television, which has been folded into CBS, guaranteed 5 percent of net proceeds from merchandise that uses their name, voice or likeness. However, they said CBS has not shown them revenue reports and even told Miss Moran that no money was owed to her.

“Despite this ongoing obligation, defendants adopted a ‘don’t ask, don’t pay’ policy,” the suit said. “If you don’t ask, then we don’t pay.”

CBS said it intends to honor its obligation.

“We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Model Petra Nemcova voted off ‘DWTS’

She was praised as a “golden goddess” on Monday, but now Petra Nemcova is a “Dancing With the Stars” reject.

The model and humanitarian was dismissed from the hit ABC show on Tuesday, but she vowed to continue dancing.

“It’s been a life-changing journey, not just for me, but also so many people got inspired because of the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ show that I started to do dance-a-thons at schools to fundraise for Happy Hearts and change the lives of so many children around the world,” Miss Nemcova said as she learned her “Dancing” fate.

After surviving the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, Miss Nemcova founded the Happy Hearts Fund to improve the lives of children in natural-disaster areas through education.

She and professional partner Dmitry Chaplin danced their way into in a three-way tie for last place. The couple collected 22 points out of 30 for a quickstep routine Monday that earned mixed reviews from the judges, though Bruno Tonioli called the model a goddess with “lines that could rival Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini put together.”

Judges’ scores are combined with viewer votes to determine which celebrity is ousted each week.

Returning to dance on Monday’s episode will be actors Kirstie Alley, Ralph Macchio and Chelsea Kane, athletes Hines Ward and Chris Jericho, singer Romeo, and reality star Kendra Wilkinson.

NBC Sports inks deal for rights to NHL

If anyone needed more proof that live sports is the holy grail in an increasingly time-shifted and fragmented TV environment, NBC Sports’ $2 billion, 10-year deal for exclusive rights to the National Hockey League is it.

At more than $200 million annually, the new deal more than doubles the yearly rights fees NBC and Versus are paying for the NHL under the current deal, which expires at the end of the season. Not bad for a sport that when it was on ESPN was jockeying for position with poker.

The deal is the first major sports rights contract since the Comcast-NBC Universal merger put Comcast’s Versus in NBC Sports Group chairman Dick Ebersol’s portfolio. It will be the cornerstone in the rebranding of Versus, which Mr. Ebersol said will get a new name in three months.

“Our wonderful run of not paying anything [for the NHL] for a number of years is over with this deal,” Mr. Ebersol joked during a meeting with reporters Tuesday.

But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he had “no regrets” over the league’s previous six-year deal with NBC and Versus, valued at a relatively modest $75 million annually. He added that NBC Sports has been a “tremendous partner” that should get some credit for “positioning” the NHL as the hotly pursued sports property it has become. Suitors this time around included Fox Sports, Turner and last-to-fold ESPN.

“When we looked at the entire field,” Mr. Bettman said, “it was clear we were going to go with the incumbent.”

Added Mr. Ebersol: “But isn’t it nice to know others think you’re pretty?”

According to the new deal, which runs through the 2020-21 season, NBC Sports obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises. NBC will continue to broadcast a regular-season “game of the week” along with the NHL Winter Classic and “Hockey Day in America.”

Versus also will get an exclusive “game of the week,” as well as NHL Premiere Games, NHL Faceoff, the NHL All-Star Game and any future NHL Heritage Classic outdoor games in Canada.

NBC and Versus will again divvy up the Stanley Cup Finals similar to the current arrangement, which has the first two games on NBC with Versus getting Games 3 and 4 and NBC getting the remaining games, as necessary. NBC also will build a new studio for the NHL Network at its existing facility in Stamford, Conn.

‘Bewitched’ creator dies at age 100

Sol Saks, a veteran comedy writer who created the classic ABC sitcom “Bewitched,” died April 16 in Los Angeles at age 100, a publicist announced Tuesday.

Mr. Saks wrote just one episode of the Screen Gems sitcom, the pilot episode titled, “I, Darrin, Take This Witch, Samantha.”

According to harpiesbizarre.com, Mr. Saks drew inspiration for the story about a witch who weds a mortal man from two films: “I Married a Witch” (1942), starring Fredric March and Veronica Lake, and “Bell Book and Candle” (1958), with James Stewart and Kim Novak.

Mr. Saks, discussing the similarities of the “Bewitched” storyline with the two movies in a 1999 episode of “E! True Hollywood Story,” said he didnt have to worry about being sued because Columbia Pictures owned both of the movies as well as the Screen Gems television division.

“Bewitched,” which starred Elizabeth Montgomery as the beautiful nose-twitching witch, ran from 1964 to 1972.

‘Boardwalk Empire’ actress arraigned on assault

Television actress Paz de la Huerta derided a former reality TV figure as a “fake actress” after attacking her in a trendy hotel bar, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The “Boardwalk Empire” actress was arraigned on assault and other charges in her encounter last month with Samantha Swetra, who appeared on the MTV reality series “The City.”

Miss de la Huerta, who went to court wearing a long black coat and a white pantsuit over a black turtleneck, didn’t speak during her brief court appearance. She was released without bail.

“We’re asking people not to rush to judgment and to let [Miss de la Huerta] have her day in court,” defense lawyer Jamel Oeser-Sweat said.

Miss Swetra’s attorney didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Miss de la Huerta punched Miss Swetra in the face, giving her a bloody nose, and hurled a glass that left cuts in Miss Swetra’s leg around 4 a.m. on March 20 at the Standard Hotel, authorities say in a court complaint.

Miss de la Huerta plays politician Enoch “Nucky” Thompson’s hot-tempered ex-girlfriend, Lucy Danziger, on the popular “Boardwalk Empire.”

Compiled from web and wire reports

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