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CBS Sued for Fraud

Happy Days ended it original run in 1984 after ten years, now former cast members are suing CBS for fraud. Tom Bosley’s estate and four other cast members claim that merchandising fees were not paid as they should have been. Henry Winkler and Ron Howard are the only two that do not have an involvement in the allegations.

Merchandise inspired by the show includes dolls, greeting cards, DVDs and slot machines among several other items. It was when the images of the actors were put onto slot machines that Erin Moran, Don Most, Anson Williams, Marion Ross and Tom Bosley began to wonder where their share of the profits was. The actors’ percentages had been clearly stated in their contracts.

A fee of fifty percent could be deducted by the studio before the Happy Days cast received their share. When the actors had their image used without the rest of the cast they were originally supposed to receive five percent of the net profit, if a group of the actors was used they would each receive two and a half percent of the profits.

Attorney Jon Pfeiffer has filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles County Superior Court for breach of contract against CBS on behalf of the actors. Erin Moran got a payment of $692 during 1999 for merchandising fees after pressing what was then Paramount Pictures for it. The studio sent her a statement claiming to have paid $8,229 in fees for merchandising prior to the 1999 payment; Morgan claims she never saw a dime of the more than $8.000. 

A loan modification could not be reached with the mortgage holder for Moran’s home and it was foreclosed on last year. Don Most has said that receiving the payments would have made a large difference especially for those that had been having financial difficulty. 

The lawsuit claims that a breach of contract occurred when the studio broke the promise to pay the fees. It is further alleged that fraud was committed by their intentional non-payment to the cast members. There have been failed attempts to mediate the matter earlier in the year. 

CBS has acknowledged that money is owed to the actors for profits from merchandising. The studio also claims to be making every effort to rectify the situation. A telephone interview with Henry Winkler revealed that he had been paid for the use of his image through a different deal and he did not want to mess up the lawsuit for the remaining cast members. Ron Howard declined to make a statement through his publicist. 

The Happy Days actors were asked why they did not bring up the studios’ failure to pay the merchandising royalties earlier and replied they were busy. The group believed if they were owed money they would get a check in the mail. 

The lawsuit filed against CBS was for the sum of ten million dollars. Erin Moran is the only one of the five involved that has ever received a payment for the merchandise that used their images. CBS Studios Inc and Paramount Pictures were the specific divisions of the corporation named in the suit.