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Bill Nye is a key figure from many childhoods due to his role as host of Bill Nye the Science Guy, which found fun ways to expose kids to science. Recently, however, Bill Nye filed a lawsuit that is anything but fun. He filed a suit against the Walt Disney Company and many of its subsidiaries in an attempt to win millions of dollars that he believes were withheld from him after his time as host of Bill Nye the Science Guy.
Here's how it all started. Back when Bill Nye the Science Guy was kicking off in the early 90s, Bill Nye signed an agreement that entitled him to 16.5% of the net profits of the series. He received checks over the years for his share of the net profits without incident. Then, in 2008, he received a check from Buena Vista Television for $585,000 dollars, which was all well and good... until a few months later, when Nye received a letter claiming that Nye had been overpaid due to an accounting error. According to the letter, Nye needed to pay them $496,111, which... came across as a pretty big discrepancy to Nye.
Deadline reports that the size of the discrepancy caused Bill Nye and his lawyers to look into the finances to see if he was really being paid what he was due under the agreement that entitled him to 16.5% of Bill Nye the Science Guy net profits. Nye has said that the royalty payments ceased back in July 2008 after he declined to repay the hundreds of thousands of dollars Buena Vista was asking for in after the purported accounting error.
Now, Bill Nye has filed the suit that alleges Disney and its subsidiaries (including Buena Vista) did not pay him what he was owed under the original agreement regarding Bill Nye the Science Guy net profits. The suit claims that Nye suffered damages of $9,350,565, although a final exact amount is to be determined at trial. Furthermore, the suit alleges that Disney and Co. are guilty of "obtaining ill-gotten profits" of more than $28 million. In total, the lawsuit is looking to award Bill Nye upward of $37 million.
Bill Nye the Science Guy ran for five seasons from 1994 - 1999, with more than 100 episodes that earned 19 Emmy awards. The lawsuit establishes that on top of the show's success while on the air, Buena Vista gained even more net profit thanks to home video sales, educational exhibitions, and continued syndication. Throw in the digital age that has enabled fans to access episodes on Netflix and iTunes, and the profits keep getting higher. The show has been an undeniable success; we'll have to wait and see whether Bill Nye's lawsuit equally successful. There is undoubtedly a lot of legal back-and-forth still to come. At this point, it's impossible to definitively say if anybody is truly in the wrong.
Bill Nye may have a quite to wait before the case is finally settled, but he has plenty to keep him busy. His Netflix original show Bill Nye Saves the World was a hit, and it was renewed for a second season back in June. You can check out the first season streaming on Netflix now, and don't forget to take a peek at our fall TV premiere schedule. Our 2017 Netflix premiere guide has plenty of helpful dates as well.