Stars say CBS has not paid them for merchandising
This isn't the "Happy Days" reunion you've been hoping for.
Four stars of the show — and the estate of the late Tom Bosley — allege that CBS, which owns the rights to the 1974-84 ABC sitcom, has not paid them merchandising revenues they say they are owed under their contracts. They took their case to CNN, granting the network exclusive interviews about their plight.
Anson Williams, who played Potsie, said the show "represented to the public what the best of America has to offer… the friendships, the opportunities, the warmth."
"Unfortunately, now 'Happy Days' also represents the worst of America — of what major companies are trying to get from it, trying to use it for, and forgetting the family it created."
CBS, in an e-mail to CNN, said, "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 declined further comment.
Joining Williams and Bosley's estate in the lawsuit are Don Most (who played Ralph Malph), Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham, wife of Bosley's Howard Cunningham and mother of Richie and Joanie) and Erin Moran (Joannie). Bosley died in October.
Attorney Jon Pfeiffer filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The actors' likenesses have been used by comic books T-shirts, scrapbooks, trading cards, games, lunch boxes, dolls, toy cars, magnets, greeting cards and DVD covers. They said they began wondering why they weren't being paid more when their faces appeared on slot machines.
"It takes a lot to make me angry because so often my expectations are so low," Ross told CNN. "But the other day someone came up to me and said, 'You must be cleaning up on those casinos.' And I said, 'Well, what are you talking about?' And he said, 'If you get five Marions, you get the jackpot."'
Ross confirmed to CNN that last year she lost her California home to foreclosure.
"It definitely could have made a difference," Most said. "I would think so, and right now it could really make a difference because (Moran) is going through a bit of a hard time."