H.R. Pufnstuf vs. ‘N Sync?Note to ‘N Sync: H.R. Pufnstuf may be your friend when things get rough. But don’t piss him off.
Sid and Marty Krofft Pictures, the puppeteering company behind such campy ’70s kid shows as H.R. Pufnstuf and The Bugaloos, is suing the multiplatinum boy band for copyright infringement, claiming 25-foot puppets custom-made for the popsters were illegally copied and photographed to hawk souvenirs.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Krofft Pictures says it was cut out of souvenir profits after creating goliath-sized puppets of the five teen idols for their performance last January at the American Music Awards.
According to the suit, photos of the giant puppets were later used on the back of ‘N Sync souvenir programs and “backstage pass” laminates without the company’s permission.
In this case, Krofft Pictures claims there were strings attached. As owners and copyright holders of the puppets, Krofft granted permission to display them only during the AMA performance. If any future souvenirs were based on the puppets, the suit claims that band manager Johnny Wright told Krofft Pictures, “Don’t worry, you are ‘in’ on any and all merchandise.”
“They had these puppets made on pretty short notice so they could be used for the performance,” says Bruce Isaacs, lawyer for Krofft Pictures. The suit alleges that Krofft received the puppet request from ‘N Sync just 10 days before they were set to perform “Bye, Bye, Bye” at the AMAs, and that the puppets were delivered on time.
“We really bent over backwards to keep this out of the papers and not file a lawsuit,” Isaacs adds. “But we weren’t making any progress.”
The company is seeking damages, attorney’s fees and a portion of profits from the souvenir sales. Isaacs indicated that Krofft may seek total damages in excess of $1 million. The suit names all five members (Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass and Joey Fatone Jr., for the uninitiated), as well as band manager Wright, Winterland Concessions Company and merchandising consultant Rick Barlowe.
The band’s label Jive Records has not commented on the lawsuit.
Ever since the boys sold a record-breaking 2.4 million albums in a week with No Strings Attached, the label has been “not commenting” on a few lawsuits. The group was sued over claims that it didn’t have the rights to the ‘N Sync name. And the popsters also endured a nasty legal battle last year with their former Svengali-esque mentor and music mogul, Lou Pearlman.
Meanwhile, speaking of 25-foot teen idols, gossips are currently buzzing about the status of a “friendship” between ‘N Sync’s own Joey Fatone and WWF beefcake babe Chyna. Rumor-mongers at Us Weekly spied the unlikely pair sharing drinks at a hotel before strolling off arm in arm. (No, she apparently did not have him in a headlock.)
A WWF spokesman says they met following the MTV Video Music Awards, and are “just really good friends.”
Is it just us, or do you have the bugaloos, too?