Update: The lawsuit was filed earlier today in L.A. Superior Court with Patricia Bosley, wife of Tom Boseley, named as a co-plaintiff. The actors are seeking damages of at least $10 million.
Apparently all is not well in the land of “Happy Days.”
Several cast members from the classic ‘70s sitcom about life in the ’50s and ’60s are banding together to file a breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS, the studio that now owns the rights to the show.
Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham), Anson Williams (Potsie), Don Most (Ralph Malph), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham) and the estate of the late Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham) are the participating plaintiffs in the case, according to a CNN report, which notes that the actors are seeking unpaid proceeds from profits earned via “Happy Days” merchandise. That includes a series of “Happy Days” slot machines that began to roll out in casinos in 2008.
“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."'
Jon Pfeiffer, the attorney representing the “Happy Days” gang in the case, said via e-mail that he is filing the suit today in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Noticeably absent from the case? Perhaps the most iconic “Happy Days” cast members: Henry Winkler, aka the Fonz; Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham); and Scott Baio, who played the master of “wah wah wah,” Chachi Arcola.
Pfeiffer said via e-mail that Winkler appears to have been paid appropriately based on his contract agreement, and Baio’s likeness has not been used in merchandising to the same degree as the others.
“I have not spoken to Ron Howard but we will learn through discovery whether he has been paid,” Pfeiffer said.
According to the CNN report, the actors’ contracts stipulated that they would receive five percent of net merchandising proceeds if their individual likenesses were used and 2.5 percent of proceeds whenever they were used as a group. Williams, Most, Ross, Moran and Bosley’s representatives say they have not received that money.
In a statement to CNN, CBS said, “We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue.”
At least one of the actors definitely seems like she could use the cash. Moran confirmed to CNN that she lost her California home last year in a foreclosure after her bank refused to modify the terms of her loan.
"There's a bigger picture here," Most told the network. "We're one show, but there's many other shows, and we've spoken to many other actors, and they haven't seen any money for merchandising, so we think this is pervasive.”