EXCLUSIVE: After a three-year battle waged to determine ownership of sequel and separated rights on the CBS sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, creators Albert S. Ruddy and the late Bernard Fein have been granted all rights. Ruddy will work with Fein’s estate to develop a feature film ensemble comedy using the show’s clever WWII German POW camp premise. The duo was granted rights that include movies, publication, merchandising, radio and live rights, as well as TV sequel rights. The judgment was made by arbitrator Joel M. Grossman on March 1. The creators went up against Bing Crosby Productions, which produced the show, and whose rights are now owned by Mark Cuban. Ruddy and Fein were represented by Greenburg & Traurig’s Vince Chieffo and Alan Schwartz, and WGA’s Heather Pearson and Anthony R. Segall.
Hogan’s Heroeswas a top-rated show on CBS that spanned 168 episodes that ran from 1965-1971, starring Bob Crane as Col. Robert Hogan, Werner Klemperer as Col. Wilhelm Klink, Richard Dawson as Cpl. Peter Newkirk and John Banner as Sgt. Hans Schultz. Ruddy and Fein created the show and wrote and developed the pilot.
Ruddy, best known for producing The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby, just wrapped the David Ayer-directed Ten, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The issue of ownership of rights has been a veritable tinderbox of litigation for the past 10 years with most writers unsure of whether they can claim such rights. I wouldn’t be surprised if this development sends more show creators to their union to see what is possible.