LOS ANGELES (CN) – The daughters and heirs of Frank and Doris Hursley, the husband-and-wife writing team who created “General Hospital,” say ABC owes them an accounting and years of royalties from the longest-running soap opera on television.
Bridget Dobson, Deborah Hardy, and Polly Keusnik say ABC used Hollywood accounting to cheat them of their parents’ 10 percent share of the show’s net profits. They say they recently discovered the number juggling during an audit, and say ABC also “wrongfully refused” to disclose more information that will show other contractual breaches.
The plaintiffs describe themselves as “the daughters and heirs” of the Hursleys, “who became famous in the 1950s for writing soap operates.”
“In 1963, the Hursleys created the medical soap opera ‘General Hospital,’ for ABC. From 1963 to 1973, the Hursleys served as the head writers of ‘General Hospital’ and their daughters, Bridget Dobson and Deborah Hardy, also both served as writers on the show. ‘General Hospital’ is widely considered the most popular soap opera of all time. It is now the longest-running soap opera on television,” according to the complaint in Superior Court.
The Hursleys formed the corporation Frandor (named for Frank and Doris), which provided scripts to ABC. Frandor dissolved in 1975 and assigned all its rights and titles to the Hursleys, who passed it on to their daughters and heirs.
Frandor and the Hursleys were “‘granted 10 percent of 100 percent of the net profits from domestic syndication of all programs of the ABS series and the same profit percentage with respect to foreign syndication of all shows produced and telecast by ABC after Jan. 3, 1969,” according to the complaint. They also got 10 percent share of ancillary rights, from merchandising, movie rights, and so on.
The plaintiffs say they repeatedly sought books and records for an audit, but ABC refused until late 2010. They say that from the few years of records ABC did produce, the auditors discovered “that ABC had breached the Agreement through various improper and incorrect accounting methods,” which – what do you know? – “resulted in plaintiffs receiving less that what they are owed pursuant to the Agreement.”
They seek full accounting and damages, plus interest, for breach of contract, breach of faith. They are represented by Jeremiah Reynolds, with Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, of Santa Monica.