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Home Improvement - The Complete First Season

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Old 02-28-2013, 10:43 PM   #1
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Exclamation Update: "Home Improvement" Syndication Profits Case Revived by Court

"Home Improvement" Team Sues Disney for Syndication Money
by Matthew Belloni

The creative team behind "Home Improvement" has sued ABC parent company the Walt Disney Co. seeking millions of dollars in revenue for failing to properly exploit the hit 1990s sitcom.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Wind Dancer Production Group, writer-producers Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra, Tam O'Shanter and David McFadzean claim that Disney sold "Home Improvement" into syndication in New York "for no monetary consideration" and failed to consult with them about how the Tim Allen show would be exploited.

The plaintiffs also claim they haven't been paid their fair share of profits from a show that has generated $1.5 billion for Disney. They claim they are entitled to 75 percent of net profits generated by the show, an unusually high percentage.

This is actually the second time the "Home Improvement" crew has sued Disney.

They filed one of the first so-called "vertical integration" lawsuits in the mid-1990s seeking millions in revenue that the show generated from being exploited by Disney-affiliated companies in ways that underreported money owed to profit participants.

That case settled and helped change the ways that studios and networks deal with each other and with the talent that profit from successful shows.

The new suit claims Disney has caused "Home Improvement" to be syndicated "at well before the fair market value" and against the interests of the profit participants. It also claims that certain charges have been applied to the show improperly.

THR has reached out to Disney for comment and will update with a response.

The suit, filed by Marcia Harris and Yakub Hazzard of Robins Kaplan MIller & Ciresi, alleges causes of action for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, declaratory relief, unfair competition and accounting.

Last edited by JamesG : 03-23-2017 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 01-08-2015, 02:57 PM   #2
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Disney Beats Lawsuit from "Home Improvement" Creators (Exclusive)
by Austin Siegemund-Broka

The Walt Disney Co. has struck a major blow in its long-running battle with the creators of the 1990s sitcom "Home Improvement".

At a hearing on Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court judge William Highberger fully granted the ABC parent company’s motion for summary adjudication against the claims filed by Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean and their affiliated production companies.

In the lawsuit, the creators claimed Disney and its subsidiary Buena Vista had mishandled the hit sitcom, which ran on ABC for eight seasons, and failed to pay the plaintiffs their fair share of the profits.

The creators of the show starring Tim Allen alleged that Disney licensed the show for syndication in New York and other territories for less than the market value and didn’t consult with the show’s creators about its distribution as the contract required.

This was the second time that the "Home Improvement" creators raised hackles with how the show was licensed. An earlier lawsuit made its mark in the entertainment industry as one of the first "vertical integration" claims, taking aim at how Disney was licensing the show to its own affiliates to the disadvantage of profit participants.

This lawsuit filed in February 2013 was also about accounting. The creators claimed their cut of the profits wasn’t what it should have been due to alleged errors, although the plaintiffs said they were frustrated by Disney's non-cooperation with audit attempts as well as alleged failures to detail accounting practices from 2001 through 2005.

Disney and Buena Vista focused on that time frame in their motion for adjudication. The defendants argued that the plaintiff’s claims were time-barred. The contracts at issue limit the time to two years in which the profit participants could dispute their participation statements.

In court, the plaintiffs’ attorney, Roman Silberfeld of Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi, argued for a different interpretation of the contract. The two-year limitation, he said, is for situations where the error in the profit participation statement is obvious, like a clear discrepancy with the contract or a clerical error.

If the dispute concerns unreported calculations that result in hidden errors, he believed that the clock starts from discovery of those discrepancies. He wanted a green light to proceed in the lawsuit.

The only rational way to read these provisions is that we have two time periods, one for the simple stuff, which is two years, and one for the more complicated,” he said.

Dan Petrocelli at O’Melveny & Myers, attorney at defendants, responded that there’s no such interpretation to be found in the creators’ contracts.

Highberger sided with Disney and Buena Vista. In the judge’s tentative ruling, adopted at the hearing and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, he decides to hold the creators to the express terms of the contracts that were made.

In typical contract cases, it's the discovery of an error that begins the countdown of time by which a lawsuit must be filed, but the parties may agree to adjust the time frame. The judge notes a 2013 opinion by a California appellate court that concluded that contractual provisions altering the clock are valid and enforceable.

In coming to the same conclusion in this case, Highberger highlights the sophistication of the creators as they were well-known in the entertainment industry and presumably had good agents and lawyers representing them when the deals were made between 1989 and 1994.

"This was not a situation where talent had to passively accept an adhesion agreement forced on them by Disney," he writes.

Ultimately, the judge says he "agrees with Disney’s interpretation of the agreement that the summary participation statements provided... were sufficient presentations of the amounts conceded owed by Disney to the talent under the Operative Agreement and thus the incontestability term started to run..."

Even if this case concludes, however, the conflict between "Home Improvement’s" creators and Disney could still continue. The creators filed another lawsuit against the company and Buena Vista in January 2014. That action covers Disney’s accounting from 2006-2012. It has no proceedings currently scheduled.

The plaintiffs were represented by Silberfeld and Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi's Marcia Harris and Mark Passin. The same trio filed the creators' 2014 lawsuit.
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Old 01-10-2015, 01:14 AM   #3
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no reunion?
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Old 01-10-2015, 10:25 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Blackout
no reunion?
Marge: There are only 49 stars on that flag.
Abe: I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missouri!
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:05 PM   #6
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Forgive me if this is a dumb question, but is this the reason why the show is not being shown anymore on any station?

God bless you always!!!

Go here to check out my most favorite singer, James Otto, when you can!
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Old 06-13-2015, 08:29 PM   #7
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I'm curious if this is the case too?
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Old 03-23-2017, 07:57 PM   #10
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Default Disney Nailed As ‘Home Improvement’ Profit-Sharing Suit Revived By Court

By Dominic Patten on Mar 22, 2017 4:07 pm

Like a home improvement that you mistakenly thought was completed years ago, Disney saw some legal walls fall today after a California appeals court gave a Home Improvement profit-sharing lawsuit a brand new hammer. “The trial court accordingly erred in granting summary adjudication in favor of Disney,” 2nd District Appeals Court Justice Laurie Zelon wrote with the agreement of two other judges, setting the stage for a new round of action over the profits from the Tim Alle…
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