Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy, Baby Fozzie, Baby Gonzo, Baby Animal, and Miss Nanny won’t be called as witnesses, but a new copyright infringement and fraud suit against The Walt Disney Company over Muppet Babies is no romp in the nursery.
Veteran small screen scribe Jeffrey Scott filed a four-claim complaint in federal court yesterday against the House of Mouse. In the document, Scott alleges that ideas new and old for the Disney Junior and Disney Channel reboot that launched in 2018 were lifted from his work.
In the very non-fluffy document, Scott and his attorneys state that the Super Friends, Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Dragon Tales alum “created the original Muppet Babies production bible, which he owns and in which he has a registered copyright, in the early 1980s.” Coming out of a long held verbal deal with the Jim Henson Company and previous rights holder Marvel Productions Ltd, Emmy winner Scott accuses now Muppets owner Disney of not keeping to the agreed deals of the past, as well as having sticky fingers in more recent years.
“In 2015, Disney began the early stages of developing the new Muppet Babies show,” the October 22 filing says (READ IT HERE). “In early 2016, Disney executives met with Scott at their request, and he presented detailed ideas for the show’s updated structure, look and characters, and for new episodes, with the understanding on both sides that, if Disney used Scott’s ideas and produced new episodes, it would pay for Scott’s ideas and honor the commitments that Disney’s predecessor, Marvel, and Jim Henson, made to him,” the complaint continues. “A Disney executive then emailed Scott asking him to send Disney his ideas in writing, which Scott did.”
And that’s where things go a bit gonzo, to put it mildly. Adding to the strange brew, the Scott’s complaint names names with Disney General Manager & SVP of Original Programming, Disney Junior Joe D’Ambrosia and Disney TV SVP, Original Programming Alyssa Cooper Sapire in the hot seat.
“Scott is informed and believes that, when Disney executives D’Ambrosia and Sapire solicited Scott’s ideas for a Muppet Babies reboot, they and their superiors at Disney knew, and concealed from Scott, that Disney had assembled or was assembling a production team for the reboot, and that they and their superiors had no intention of offering Scott an opportunity to work on the reboot or to pay him for his ideas, which they intended to use without complying with their obligations under the parties’ implied agreement,” the jury trial seeking filing states.
Disney did not reply to request for comment on what is surely a red faced situation for them with someone of Scott’s pedigree, no matter how you slice it.
Via his lawyers Howard King and Stephen Rothchild, Scott is seeking a variety of monetary damages, a look at the Muppet Babies books for profit, and a “Developed for Television by” credit on the two seasons and counting digitally animated show
That’s certainly going to change the colors on Nanny’s socks, if you know what I mean?
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