Azaria sued to prove he owned rights to sportscaster character
Hank Azaria can raise up his voice in victory — most likely in a wacky fashion.
Azaria, who provides a number of voices on the animated comedy institution “The Simpsons,” has prevailed in a lawsuit brought against “Leap Year” actor Craig Bierko over one of Azaria's characters, sportscaster Jim Brockmire.
Judge Gary Allen Feess granted Azaria's motion for summary judgment in the suit last week, finding that the Brockmire character is copyrighted material owned by Azaria and How to Pictures, Inc.
Azaria filed suit in 2012, asserting that Bierko had falsely claimed ownership of the character, jeopardizing a potential movie deal.
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In 2011, Bierko's attorney sent a cease and desist letter to Azaria over the sportscaster character Jim Brockmire (who was featured in a 2010 Funny or Die video), claiming that the character had been created by Bierko.
However, Feess found otherwise, finding that the Brockmire character was both copyrightable, and that Azaria and How to Pictures own the copyright.
Bierko's character? Not so much.
Brockmire, Feess noted, has characteristics such as being “a middle-aged white man” who “wears plaid, a rose at his lapel, owns a lucky pen, has ‘old school’ values, has a penchant for movies, especially ‘The Godfather,’ loves his wife to death, jovially interacts with his public, has a depth of obscure cultural knowledge, loses his temper uncontrollably, and works as a baseball announcer.”
Bierko's character, identified as Sports Announcer Character in Feess’ order, has a handful of characteristics that wouldn't “serve to distinguish Sports Announcer Character from any actual baseball announce sitting in the booth on given game day.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.