Rocart signs studio teacher’s union to hire and help live action Nick stars by using union teachers during production; Hasbro forced to stop production from latest Littlest Pet Shop after being sued 5 million by Fox News anchor after plagiarizing reporter’s looks; SpongeBob The Musical to premiere in Chicago Oriental Theater July 3rd 2016


Welcome to the end of summer edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!




9 years ago back in 2006, the studio teachers union has put Rocart under pressure to use union teachers for kid actors to help in their live action Nick shows such as Drake and Josh and ICarly. And the same goes for Henry Danger and The Thundermans. This time, the company has allowed them to do so. Will teaching help the rest of the Nick stars succeed in real life as new shows come soon Angie?






Angie Angelfish (via Deadline Hollywood)- Hollywood’s Studio Teachers Local 884 has won a major victory in its nine-year struggle to get the producer of many of Nickelodeon’s kids shows to sign its contract. Under the terms of the IATSE’s new Hollywood labor contract, Rocart Inc. has agreed that it now will hire union teachers for all the child actors it employs on shows it produces for the popular children’s TV channel.

Up until now, Rocart has been hiring nonunion studio teachers for the shows through a referral agency and classifying them as “independent contractors.” The teachers union has long argued that this was a misclassification and that the nonunion teachers Rocart hired were really its employees. Earlier this year, one of the local’s members even sued Rocart over this alleged misclassification. It’s expected that that suit will be dropped.

“This is a big victory for those teachers. It’s been a battle that we’ve be fighting since 2006,” said former Local 884 business rep Linda Stone, who gave credit to Rocart for signing the contract and “doing the right thing.”

Shows that Rocart produces for Nickelodeon include Henry Danger, The Thundermans, Bella And The Bulldogs, Game Shakers and Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn. Under the terms of the agreement, the shows’ teachers will get to keep their jobs and can join the union after 30 days of covered employment. It’s believed that fewer than a dozen studio teachers currently are employed on the shows but that many more will come to work under the union’s contract if Rocart’s lineup for Nickelodeon expands.

Some employers prefer to hire “independent contractors” because it can save them a lot of money. By not having them on their payrolls, employers don’t have to pay taxes covering unemployment and Workers’ Comp benefits or pay the employer’s half of Social Security and Medicare taxes, which the independent contractors must pay for themselves. Some have called this “wage theft” because paying the employer’s share of these taxes can reduce independent contractors’ take-home pay by as much as 7%.

Companies that hire independent contractors also don’t have to provide them with pension and health benefits, and they don’t have to pay them overtime or provide accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Independent contractors also are not protected from employment discrimination by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and are not entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act.




There’s trouble in the pet shop as Hasbro is in trouble of stealing a newsreader’s personality, namely Fox News Outnumbered host Harris Faulkner. The reason? Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop was currently making an addition to its Pet Personality line, a toy hamster by the same name of the Outnumbered host. What’s got her so angry Angie and how much million smackers is Hasbro being sued for using it?




Angie Angelfish (via Deadline Hollywood) (continued)- The six-time News Emmy winner is not happy at all about the “demeaning and insulting” Hasbro toy hamster that has both her name and, she claims, her look. In fact, Fox News Channel’s Harris Faulkner is taking the world’s third-biggest toy manufacturer to court for $5 million over under trademark law for false endorsement and unfair competition as well as violation of her right of publicity. In addition to the financial damages, the Outnumbered co-anchor wants a full accounting of how much Hasbro has made off the toy and the company stopped from making and selling any more of that Harris Faulkner.


Let’s be honest – Harris Faulkner is not the most common name around and the journalist has been in the public eye for many years before Hasbro introduced the toy as part of its Little Pet Shop line back in 2014. In fact, Faulkner’s lawyers say she put Hasbro on notice about the matter in January this year but nothing happened. Well into the summer the toy was available for purchase off Hasbro’s online store – which might be of additional interest to you if you are a Terri Bowman or Dash McDernutt. The Harris Faulkner toy hamster does not seem to be on Hasbro’s Little Pet Shop site today.

But doubt that would quell the Fox Report Weekend anchor’s ire at this point. The “uniquely named, acclaimed veteran journalist and author” says in her complaint against the multibillion-dollar company filed this week in federal court  that she has “worked for decades to establish and maintain her personal brand and laudable professional reputation.” The toy hamster doesn’t exactly help that journo brand. Hasbro did not respond to request for comment on the lawsuit.


“Hasbro’s manufacture, sale, and distribution of the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll is extremely concerning and distressing to Faulkner,” says the sharp 15-page filing. “In addition to its prominent and unauthorized use of Faulkner’s name, elements of the Harris Faulkner Hamster Doll also bear a physical resemblance to Faulkner’s traditional professional appearance, in particular tone of its complexion, the shape of its eyes, and the design of its eye makeup. Hasbro’s capitalization on Faulkner’s name, likeness, identity, and persona is underscored with the display of the  ‘TM’ symbol after her name and a statement on the back of the packaging that this symbol ‘denote[s] U.S. Trademark[]’ that—falsely—claims that Hasbro owns a United States trademark in ‘Harris Faulkner.’”

And then there are the issues of being associated with a toy that could prove a “choking hazard” for young children and professional perception. “Further, Faulkner does not endorse products of any kind, as doing so would be a breach of journalistic ethics, would directly harm her professional credibility, and would be in violation of her contractual obligations to her employer,” the complaint adds. “This means that Hasbro misappropriated Faulkner’s name, likeness, identity, or persona without consent, for its own profit, for the purpose of capitalizing off of her good name and persona, all at Faulkner’s expense.”

Having filed in New Jersey, the real life Faulkner is represented by Paul Halasz and Dennis LaFiura of Day Pitney LLP of Parsippany in the Garden State. Dori Ann Hanswirth, Theresa House and Patsy Wilson of NYC’s Hogan Lovells US LLP are also providing counsel.



Well folks, let’s just hope Hasbro doesn’t get hit hard in court for using copyright infringement, or else it could embarrass its image.




After a much impressed box office run for SpongeBob Movie 2: Sponge Out Of Water back in February, the Sponge and his crew are headed to Broadway next summer as The SpongeBob Musical comes to town. And with SpongeBob Movie 3 recently announced by Viacom CEO Phillippe Daumond, they set their sights from Bikini Bottom to Chicago. Many of today’s stars will join in this once in a lifetime extravaganza. When will the ultimate performance begin soon Dan?




Dan Barry (via Animation World)- The World Premiere of Nickelodeon’s The SpongeBob Musical will begin performances on Tuesday, June 7th at Broadway in Chicago’s Oriental Theatre (24 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL). This is a limited engagement through Sunday, July 3, 2016.

The SpongeBob Musical is co-conceived and directed by Tina Landau with a book by Kyle Jarrow, music supervision by Tom Kitt.

The SpongeBob Musical will be a one-of-a-kind musical event with original songs by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of AEROSMITH, Jonathan Coulton, Dirty Projectors, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I., with an additional song by David Bowie and additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton.

Following its engagement in Chicago, the musical will open on Broadway in the 2016-2017 season.

The SpongeBob Musical unleashes anarchic absurdity under the sea… It is a rousing tale of a simple sea sponge who faces the unfathomable. It’s a celebration of unbridled hope, unexpected heroes, and pure theatrical invention.


“I was drawn to this project not only for its wild theatrical possibility, but also because I felt SpongeBob, at its core, is a layered and hilarious ensemble comedy,” said Landau. “SpongeBob himself is of course its center and beating heart–the eternal innocent in a sea of cynics. He’s also the classic underdog hero, and so our production sets him on a hero’s journey with real stakes, all the while retaining the show’s trippy humor and irreverence. We’re taking our leads from the TV show but this is an original story, with an original design approach, and original songs written just for the occasion by an amazing array of songwriters. We will present the world of Bikini Bottom and its characters in a whole new way that can only be achieved in the live medium of the theatre. We’re bringing the show’s fabled characters to life through actors—not prosthetics or costumes that hide them—and we’re deploying some unconventional stage craft that will prove that anything can happen in Bikini Bottom.”

“SpongeBob long ago transcended the TV screen to become a pop culture icon inspiring everyone from kids and families to artists and musicians, pro athletes, movie stars, fashion designers, social media mavens and even the President,” said Cyma Zarghami, President, Viacom Kids and Family Group. “This character has achieved a level of global popularity that we could never have imagined, and bringing him to Broadway is a way to give him a new platform, literally, to reach audiences of all ages who are looking for an engaging, funny and innovative musical theatre experience.”

Added Russell Hicks, Nickelodeon’s President of Content Development and Production, “We decided early on that we would only bring SpongeBob to Broadway if we could find someone with a wholly unique take on these beloved characters. When we met Tina, we immediately understood that her vision would not only live up to the expectations of both fans and new audiences, but also to the high-level of artistry and professionalism that are the hallmarks of Broadway. The innovation she is bringing to the staging is matched with an equally fun and surprising set of original songs we’ve culled from a dream team of SpongeBob fans who happen to be top-flight musical artists, like David Bowie, John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, Lady Antebellum and T.I.”

Since premiering on Nickelodeon in July 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants has emerged as a pop culture phenomenon. The series has been the most-watched animated program with kids for more than 13 consecutive years, and over the past several years, it has averaged more than 1 million total viewers every quarter across all Nickelodeon networks. As the most widely distributed property in Viacom history, SpongeBob is seen in over 185 countries and translated in more than 50 languages. The Paramount Pictures feature film The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water premiered Feb. 6, 2015, landing at #1 opening weekend and going on to be a major hit globally. The character-driven cartoon chronicles the nautical and sometimes nonsensical adventures of SpongeBob, an incurably optimist and earnest sea sponge, and his undersea friends.





This week is the last weekend of summer folks, with 4.4 million smackers expected, it’ll be the strongest summer since 2012. While were waiting for the last summer box office report until next week, here’s more of your favorite box office titles on DVD and Blu-Ray:





Mad Max: Fury Road
Good Kill
The D Train


The Age of Adaline
American Heist


The Overnight
Love & Mercy
Heaven Knows What
Monkey Kingdom
Furious 7


Pitch Perfect 2





Checking the Penguins tally, 1,540 fans sign in as Team Skipper preps for a long deserved Labor Day weekend.




And don’t forget to look for new episodes on Labor Day and all throughout September as football season arrives at last. We’ll be looking forward for some new plays next time on Gene Scallop’s entertainment report.

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