Hollywood might still be excited about reboots, remakes and spinoffs, but there are complications that come from using an existing property as a jumping off point. Specifically, there are potential complications when it comes to rights and residuals. No company knows that better right now than CBS which is being sued by two different companies, each of whom feels it should be collecting some of that MacGyver money.
The plaintiffs in question are Hanzer Holdings and Arlita Inc, and their involvement is really complicated. Basically, the original run of MacGyver, which aired from 1985 to 1992, was packaged by Major Talent Agency. The company later signed an agreement with Paramount that included a stake in all of the shows produced under a completed 1984 agreement. Hanzer Holdings and Arlita Inc both describe themselves as "successors in interest", according to Deadline, which basically means each is claiming a portion of the rights to those contracts were passed down to them. Both companies claim they repeatedly contacted CBS about being paid what they claim they're owed, but since the Tiffany Network has allegedly never paid any money, they're now filing a lawsuit.
This might all sound a bit out there to everyone outside the industry, but it's actually a good lens into how Hollywood operates. A really high percentage of projects fail. They generate no or very little money for everyone involved, at least beyond the initial payment for services. A small percentage do incredibly well, and these rare successful projects generate a lucrative return for many people either directly or even just loosely involved. For television shows, there are rerun residuals, merchandising and typically at least one new contract negotiation. This pool of resources typically shrinks after the show goes off the air, but it can still be a very healthy source of revenue for years afterward. That pool can occasionally replenish too for a few of the creators and rightsholders if there are ever spinoffs or reboots or what not, which is why Hanzer and Arlita are now wondering where their taste is.
It's going to take many well-payed lawyers and probably a long time to figure all of this out. At this point, it's foolish to even speculate on who is right and who is wrong. As for the show itself, it is also at a bit of a crossroads. MacGyver made some initial tweaks after those involved weren't happy with the product, but it quickly found its way. Unfortunately, there are some worrisome signs popping up again. Key support George Eads recently left the show after an alleged altercation on the set. Ratings aren't what they were during Season 1, and it's unclear how fans might respond long-term to his absence and whether enough will stick around to push the over-the-top show into Season 4. We shall see.
Until then, we'll keep you updated on any exciting new developments that happen with this lawsuit.
Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.
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