(CN) – Mike Connors, who starred in the 1960s drama series “Mannix,” is suing Paramount Pictures and CBS Telelvision Studios, saying he is owed a piece of the show’s profits and royalties for use of his likeness and name.
Connors, born Krekor Ohanian, claims he originally signed a contract for the series in 1966 that covered his first four seasons on the Desilu-produced show. It specifically granted the actor 10 percent of net profits and 10 percent in gross proceeds to use his image, subject to a 50 percent fee, according to the complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court.
An amendment to this contract in 1971 pushed Connors’ share of the show’s net profits up to 20 percent for the fifth through eighth seasons, he says.
Because Paramount Pictures and CBS Television Studios charged excessive and improper costs, however, and did not timely apply gross receipts, interest grew uncontrollably, Connors claims. Ultimately the studios only reported 20 percent of the gross receipts of DVD sales, according to the complaint.
Connors also says the studios sent him accounting statements that showed their increasing losses to justify not paying him and eventually stopped providing him with said statements until his accountant stepped in to request delivery.
After promising to submit their paperwork to Connors’ accountant on a semiannual basis, the studios lapsed in their responsibilities, yet again, the 85-year-old Los Angelino says.
Though the cumulative net loss for the show following its final season in 1975 was $5.1 million, that figure stretches to more than $9 million today, even though it has brought in “significant revenue from syndication and other revenue-generating sources,” the complaint also states.
Cumulative interest charged by the studios has ballooned to over $14 million from $2 million in 1975, according to the suit.
Connors says he does not know the precise amount he is owed because those monies can only be determined by an accounting of Paramount’s books and records.
“Notwithstanding all of the hard work, time and effort put into the series, Mr. Connors has never received any profits on ‘Mannix’ in the ordinary course of participation accounting,” according to the complaint. “Indeed, even as the series continues to generate revenue to this day from exploitation and DVD sales, it sinks deeper and deeper into debt.”
The show, for which Connors received a Golden Globe Award in 1970 along with four Emmy nominations, starred Connors as private detective Joe Mannix and has been syndicated worldwide. The studios plan to release its fifth season on DVD in July and the remaining seasons thereafter.
Connors sued Paramount and CBS, seeking restitution, disgorgement and punitive damages, alleging fraud, breach of contract and unfair business practices. He is represented by Neville Johnson with Johnson & Johnson of Beverly Hills.