While Sunday night’s TV Land Awards saw reunions of sitcom classics like Welcome Back, Kotter and The Cosby Show, another iconic TV cast -- that of Happy Days -- are reuniting for a different reason: They’re suing CBS for defrauding them out of 37 years’ worth of cash they feel they're owed from profits from Happy Days-branded products.
You won’t see Ron Howard’s or Henry Winkler’s name anywhere on the lawsuit, but four of the show's core players -- Anson Williams (Potsie), Don Most (Ralph Malph), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham), and Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham), along with the estate of the deceased Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham) -- are claiming to be owed millions by Happy Days-owner CBS in merchandising fees. Their outrage had turned to complacency in the 37 years since the show went off the air. But a new line of Happy Days slot machines, which featured the actors’ likenesses in place of cherries and bells, has now gotten them angry enough to sue.
Their contracts stipulated they were to receive a percentage of all net merchandising revenue. When you consider how many Happy Days lunch boxes, collectibles and board games have been sold since the show premiered in 1974, that number should be well into the millions. Yet the actors claim they have received close to nothing by way of payment. For example, Moran, whose home was foreclosed upon last year, acknowledges having received a single check from CBS in the amount of $692.
A spokesperson for CBS offered: "We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue."
As The Fonz might say, not cool.