The producers of animated preschool Disney Junior television series Goldie & Bear filed suit Thursday against ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney ABC Cable Networks Group, accusing the Disney-owned network of hypocrisy in their handling of the just-cancelled Roseanne. TMZ broke the news.
Plaintiffs' damages in the suit "are estimated to be a minimum of $20 million" (via The Wrap).
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of production companies Milk Barn and Microseries by Jan Korbelin, who the suit says manages both. Milk Barn Entertainment produced the first season of the ongoing children's show.
The production companies claim they spent two years creating the show and were kicked out by Disney who "had already secretly lined up a rival production company called Titmouse" to produce a second season of the successful series. The suit further alleges Disney then "lured away most of Plaintiff Milk Barn's employees in New York to work for Titmouse by falsely claiming that Milk Barn was closing and the employees were being transferred."
Despite "interference from a Disney production executive who made disastrous decisions about the production of the show, the show was a success both creatively and in the ratings," the suit reads.
Before the first season ended, the suit says, Disney "orally informed Korblein that the Plaintiffs' services would no longer be necessary."
Such a move came as a breach of contract because it neglected "to give the Plaintiffs written notice of any alleged breaches of contract and an opportunity to cure any such defaults (no written notice was provided because, in fact, there were no breaches of contract by the Plaintiffs)," the suit contends.
Microseries says it was cut out of a deal entered into by Disney and computer animation producers ICON Creative Studio, "stripping it of millions in equipment and software that Microseries had paid for" in the process.
The suit goes on to say "by destroying the two Plaintiff companies, Disney made it virtually impossible for those companies to ever be in the children's television or feature business again."
It also claims Korbelin was instructed by Disney to fire and assume the duties of the show's original executive producer, and Korbelin is still owed $250,000 for the 18 months he served as EP on Goldie & Bear.
"In the wake of the 'Roseanne' fiasco, the president of ABC's television group said that cancelling hit show 'Roseanne': '…came down to doing what's right and upholding our values of inclusion tolerance and civility,'" the suit reads, alleging the company didn't adhere to family values "in its treatment of a family business producing a children's show whose themes are friendship, family and doing the right thing."
ABC made headlines Tuesday when it swiftly cancelled the short-lived Roseanne revival — the number one show on television — after star Roseanne Barr published a racist tweet about former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett.
Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment, condemned Barr's comments as "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values."
Said Disney CEO Robert Iger of the decision to cancel the hit show, "There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing."
Goldie & Bear airs on Disney Junior and follows 10-year-old Goldie Locks and best friend Jack Bear in their adventures around Fairy Tale Forest.