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A Christmas Story Gone Bad

We know the holiday season is over but we just couldn’t help but pass this one along regarding a holiday T.V. classic.

farkusIt was the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring because we were all intently watching the Warner Bros’ 1983 movie, A Christmas Story, on the television.  How many of you have seen this classic family movie?  I grew up watching this movie with my cousins every holiday on TBS.  It is a movie my cousins and I absolutely love.  One of my favorite scenes is when Ralphie finally confronts the neighborhood bully and beats him up.  Can you believe that movie is 30 years old?  My cousins and I often wonder now after watching the movie, what ever became of those child stars?  In particular, where is that bully now?

Well it turns out that bully played by actor Zack Ward, now 42, is in the middle of a publicity rights lawsuit against the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA).  Ward is suing NECA for using his face on a board game box and playing cards that promotes the movie.  NECA was given licensing rights to make toys based on the movie by Warner Bros.  However, Warner Bros. did not control Zack Ward’s publicity rights for the bully character, Scut Farkus.  During the making of the movie, Ward’s original character was to only have a minor role in the movie.  Warner Bros did not see the need to include control of publicity rights for his character within their movie when they first drafted his contract.  In the end, Ward’s performance as the neighborhood bully earned him a greater more memorable part.  Warner Bros forgot to update his contract to include control over his publicity rights regarding merchandise royalties.

Years later, NECA discovered this crack in their licensing agreement with Warner Bros. when promoting A Christmas Story toys and approached Ward to sign over publicity rights.  Ward’s lawsuit is based on the fact he claims that NECA tricked him into signing his rights over to them. Ward is suing for emotional distress damages from any violation of his rights of publicity.  Initially NECA filed a motion to dismiss Ward’s suit, but the judge ruled in favor of Ward deeming that Ward had enough of a case to be heard before a jury.

The two parties allegedly came to an agreement during mediation in December. Both parties benefit from resolving the matter outside the courtroom in terms of legal costs.  If the two parties did come to an agreement last month, then it looks like Ward will be rewarded some money after all, for use of his publicity rights.  What can be taken away from this lawsuit?  It is not wise to bully a bully.  Only Ralphie can get away with beating up the neighborhood bully.

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