Max Baer Jr. is accusing CBS of making a secret deal with a small BBQ restaurant chain to allow it to “capitalize upon and exploit virtually every element” of the series for which he’s famous.
Baer Jr., who you probably know as Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies, has filed a lawsuit against the network. According to Baer Jr., CBS entered into a clandestine agreement with Jethro’s BBQ, a chain restaurant located in Iowa. According to the lawsuit, Jethro’s BBQ “inextricably incorporated the elements (of the show) into their menus, food, how they prepare the food, the decor, their logos, artwork, website, public interviews, and advertising” for year before CBS found out about it in 2008.
He alleges that when CBS found out, instead of notifying him and working out some licensing arrangement, the network simply settled with the restaurant by allowing them to operate after making some minor changes.
Baer Jr. claims that his rights to the Jethro Bodine character have been undermined.
From the Des Moines Register:
Baer and CBS reached a “broad” licensing agreement in 1991 that gave the actor rights to develop motel, casino, restaurant and other properties using “Beverly Hillbillies” themes, Freis said. Jethro’s BBQ essentially dilutes the “Jethro” brand that Baer has rights to, he said.
Under the licensing agreement, Baer has spent upwards of $1 million in efforts to develop hillbilly-themed businesses, according to the lawsuit. The actor has also paid royalties back to CBS for merchandise, including revenue from themed slot machines and a brand of BBQ sauce, the lawsuit said.
Jethro’s BBQ fans have nothing to fear, says owner Bruce Gerleman.
“We own the name, we own the trademark, it will always be Jethro’s BBQ in Des Moines, Iowa,” he told the Des Moines Register.
But Baer Jr.’s attorney hasn’t ruled out legal action against the restaurant itself.