Really? Reading Rainbow Owner Hits LeVar Burton w/Brutal Allegations In New Lawsuit
Former Reading Rainbow host/actor, LeVar Burton -or as many of us Old Schoolers refer to him as, “Kunta Kinte” from Roots– just got hit with a second lawsuit from the owners of the hit kids series, Reading Rainbow.
Based on court docs, Burton has been at legal war with the company, WNED-TVV, since 2011. As of this week, WNED has added more to their long list of accusations against Burton, in a new lawsuit that pretty much alleges that LeVar is a thief and backstabber when it comes to their Reading Rainbow brand.
So what happened?
It basically sounds like Burton and his company, RRKidz, outsmarted WNED-TV (a PBS member broadcast company in Buffalo, New York) in a 2011 contract agreement, where they agreed to allow him to use the Reading Rainbow licensing, which Lavar has since been able to morph into other business opportunities for himself. He’s successfully raised $6 million, through Kickstarter, to relaunch the Reading Rainbow TV series and as of June 2017, he’s been having success with his adult podcast, LaVar Burton Reads.
It’s the latter that has sparked this new legal battle, because apparently LeVar’s new podcast has been referred to as the ‘Reading Rainbow for adults’ and WNED thinks LeVar is still trying to capitalize off of their Reading Rainbow brand, without cutting the proper licensing fee for doing so. Another problem WNED stated was that LeVar reportedly uses his famous Reading Rainbow catchphrase, “But you don’t have to take my word for it,” on his new podcast- another opportunistic approach according to WNED. On top of that, WNED claims LeVar went behind their back to try to get a Netflix deal for Reading Rainbow launch, although LeVar has adamantly denied that. Check out the rest of the lawsuit’s details below…
Via Hollywood Reporter: “As evidenced by Mr. Burton’s conduct since he began ‘teasing’ the public about the return of Reading Rainbow years before his company acquired any rights to do so, Mr. Burton’s goal is to control and reap the benefits of Reading Rainbow’s substantial goodwill — goodwill that unquestionably belongs to WNED,” states the complaint. “First, defendants tried to assert control over the brand through deception: secret negotiations with Netflix, false assertions of ownership of the RR Intellectual Property, and misleading efforts to persuade WNED’s business associates to make Mr. Burton the host of any new series. Then, defendants tried brute force: the RRKIDZ Action, through which they tied up the RR Intellectual Property while waging a war of attrition intended to extract a settlement that would loosen restrictions of their ability to exploit the RR Intellectual Property. Now that WNED has called their bluff and is prepared to take the RRKIDZ Action to trial, defendants have resorted to theft and extortion. As the RRKIDZ Action moved closer to trial, RRKidz began working with Mr. Burton’s longtime friend, John Raymonds, to secretly encumber the RR Intellectual Property as collateral for $2.5 million in loans from Raymonds Capital.”
Hopefully LeVar Burton and the company he out-thought will be able to reach an amicable decision soon, so many Burton fans can start reliving the good ol’ days through the Reading Rainbow relaunch…whenever that may be.
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