'Home Improvement' Team Sues Disney for Syndication Money

Home Improvement Show - P 2013
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Home Improvement Show - P 2013

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.

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Read the lawsuit here.

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.

Email: Matthew.Belloni@thr.com
Twitter: @THRMattBelloni