Carol Burnett Sued from Beyond the Grave

Production company of late associate goes after star for loss of profits

“The Carol Burnett Show” may have ended many years ago but, given its popularity both back then and today, it’s still getting people to take legal action for loss of profits where it’s concerned. Carol Burnett and her company are being sued by a former associate – who happens to be dead.

This sounds like the Twilight Zone but it’s not really so: Carol Burnett and her Whacko Inc. are being sued by Bob Banner Associates, the company of Bob Banner, who died in 2011, Deadline reports.

At stake are profits made from “The Carol Burnett Show” and its spinoffs, to which BBA is entitled as co-owner, according to a deal signed many years ago.

“BBA’s suit (Banner himself died in 2011) says the company and Burnett and her Whacko are co-owners of the copyrights to the first five seasons of the show,” the publication says.

In 1967, Banner and Burnett signed a contract in this sense, which lasted until 1972. However, in 1969, Burnett was already filing for copyright registration in her name solely, as if the deal did not include Banner as co-owner, court documents say.

“The series continued until 1979. The series subsequently was edited into half-hour episodes entitled Carol Burnett And Friends. The show and reunion episodes have been distributed in syndication and via home-video licenses to Columbia House, Guthy-Renker and Time Life. The spinoff Mama’s House also continues in syndication and home video distribution, the suit says,” Deadline further reports.

This means that BBA have been practically cheated out of years’ worth of profits – and they’re now moving to have a judge award them what is rightfully theirs even if the person who originally signed the contract with Burnett is no longer alive.

“BBA says it has received no accounting or compensation for exploitation of the episodes in question. Additionally, according to the suit, Burnett has never clearly repudiated BBA’s co-ownership,” Deadline reports.

“BBA charges Burnett/Whacko with breach of fiduciary duty, unfair business practice and seeks a full accounting of revenue and profits plus damages, interest and court costs,” adds the same media outlet.

For the time being, neither Burnett nor someone from Whacko Inc. has been willing to comment on the lawsuit.

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