Astronaut Entangled in Family-Business Spat
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, has been sued by the company he started with his now-estranged wife and stepdaughter to promote his image. Starbuzz claims that since he filed for divorce, Aldrin has tried to cut his family out of the business and tried to freeze its accounts.
"StarBuzz creates and develops business opportunities by, among other things, arranging endorsements, consultancies, and personal appearances for Mr. Aldrin. The company also aggressively protects intellectual property associated with Mr. Aldrin, particularly his name and likeness," according to the complaint in Superior Court.
Aldrin, his wife Lois and stepdaughter Lisa Cannon began the LLC in 2007, and it has been run by Cannon, a former musician turned entertainment lawyer, according to the complaint.
Lois Aldrin claims that it was her daughter's hard work and her own that rescued Aldrin from financial ruin and restored his celebrity status.
Before a West Point graduate who flew 66 combat missions in a jet fighter during the Korean War, is best known for being the second man on the moon, in the Apollo 11 mission.
But after he retired from the Air Force in 1972, he "fell on hard times both personally and financially," according to the complaint.
"As Mr. Aldrin explained in his autobiography published in June 2009, 'Magnificent Desolation,' he struggled with both depression and alcoholism. Mr. Aldrin eventually became a used car salesman in Beverly Hills."
But, his estranged wife says, "Mr. Aldrin's life turned around when he met and married Lois Driggs Cannon. From the time they were married on Valentine's Day in 1988, Mrs. Aldrin began creating business opportunities for Mr. Aldrin."
She says her stepdaughter, who holds a J.D. and an M.B.A. and graduated from Stanford, "also started devoting her efforts to the family business."
Starbuzz claims that Aldrin himself gave the two women credit for reviving his fortunes, citing his autobiography: "'That year, with the book advance and a couple of extra endorsement deals that came along, we earned about $250,000. ... My petite little platinum blonde beauty of a wife suddenly turned into a public-relations dynamo. "The business is Buzz!" she proclaimed, and indeed so it became. Lois encouraged me to do interviews and attend more social functions. She protected my reputation in every way, and just had a knack for helping me to be seen in the right places, at the right times. For my part, I loved it. I was the star performer, who just needed to show up on stage as the curtains parted, and did not need to concern myself with logistics.'"
Cannon, the stepdaughter, negotiated commercial contracts for Aldrin and protected photos and videos that were previously used without permission, according to the complaint.
"Mr. Aldrin himself credits Ms. Cannon's help with restoring demand for his appearances on the speaker's circuit," it adds.
But since Aldrin recently filed for divorce Lois Aldrin, he has tried sabotage StarBuzz, which has exclusive rights to manage and promote his image, according to the complaint.
"Mr. Aldrin and his agents have, for example, contacted StarBuzz's business contacts to demand that they work directly with Mr. Aldrin and his new associates, instead of through StarBuzz. They have asked StarBuzz's business partners to exclude Ms. Cannon from communications relating to, among other things, StarBuzz's contracts with third parties, events organized and arranged by StarBuzz, and StarBuzz's other business matters. ...
"Even more troubling, Mr. Aldrin and his agents are attempting to freeze StarBuzz's bank accounts to prevent the Company from conducting its normal operations."
StarBuzz seeks "restitution for money wrongfully obtained by Mr. Aldrin," an injunction and damages for breach of contract, breach of faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, intentional and negligent interference with business, unfair business practices and conversion.
It is represented by Rick Richmond with Jenner & Block.