Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

TV writer Jeffrey Scott sues Disney's Muppet Babies reboot over copyright, alleged fraud

Disney Jr.’s Muppet Babies
Disney Jr.’s Muppet Babies
Image: Disney Junior

Elements of Disney Jr.’s current iteration of Muppet Babies may look pretty different for former young fans, between the overly smooth computer animation and the presence of Jenny Slate’s distinct rasp. One person, however, says he’s a little too familiar with reboot (and not in a cute, nostalgic way): TV screenwriter Jeffrey Scott. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the prolific writer is now suing Disney over claims that the Muppet Babies reboot, per THR, has misappropriated elements of the original Muppet Babies production bible he created and says he owns.”

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Scott, who has written and co-created a lot of classic cartoons such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, and the Pac-Man series, was an independent writer and developer on the original Muppet Babies series, which was then produced by the Jim Henson Company and Marvel. Because he was not an employee at either entity, Scott says that much of their working deal was cemented partially orally and “partially reflected in portions of the unsigned agreements.” The loosely defined deal granted him $12,000 per script, $3,500 royalty for each new episode produced, and a “Developed for Television by” credit. According to Scott, it also granted him ownership of the production bible that guided the show—many elements of which can be seen in the new series, which he’s not involved in.

“Scott is the registered owner of the copyright in the Muppet Babies production bible,” the complaint filed with California federal court states. “The Muppet Babies Production Bible created the show’s nursery setting, the child versions of the characters, the mix of entertainment and education, and the blueprint for its stories. Scott created, developed and refined character traits, running gags associated with each character, and the characters’ relationships with each other.” In addition, he says that he created the new character “Nanny” (now voiced by Slate) and the nursery environment. In addition, he says that he was in contact with Disney over the development of the reboot and submitted a pitch in 2016. The writer is suing over claims  copyright infringement, breach of contract his original contract, breach of an implied contract stemming from a recent pitch, and fraud. Disney has yet to respond to Scott’s allegations. You can view the court filing in its entirety at THR.

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