More information is coming to light concerning the lawsuit the heirs of General Hospital creators Frank and Doris Hursley have filed against ABC, alleging the estate has been cheated out of percentages of royalties. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the late Hursleys' daughters, Bridget Dobson, Deborah Hardy and Polly Keusnik, retained Dale Kinsella and Jeremiah Reynolds of Santa Monica's high profile Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert, who filed the lawsuit in Superior Court on Tuesday. If the firm's name sounds familiar, it's because Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert was recently retained by Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre to defend him against claims made by Charlie Sheen.
According to Courthouse News Servicethe Hursley heirs are claiming they recently discovered "number juggling" during an audit, and are alleging ABC "wrongfully refused" to disclose "more information that will show other contractual breaches".
The late Frank and Doris Hursley got their start in Hollywood writing for the western Have Gun, Will Travel. In 1957 they were hired to write for the soap opera Search For Tomorrow. The couple created General Hospital for ABC while still writing for SFT. GH was the network's first serious stab at entering into the then-booming daytime serial market. GH, described as a Dr. Kildare for daytime, premiered on April 1, 1963, the exact same day rival medical soap The Doctors made its debut on NBC.
The Hursley's formed a production company entitled Frandor, which provided scripts for GH, according to Courthouse News Service. The company dissolved in 1975 (the same year ABC purchased Agnes Nixon's Creative Horizons, Inc.), and assigned all its rights and titles to the Hursleys, who then passed them on to their daughters. The Hursley's served as head writers for GH from the serial's premiere through 1973, when they reportedly turned the reigns over to their daughter Bridget and her husband Jerome Dobson. That husband and wife team would go on to create NBC's Santa Barbara.
According to the complaint filed by the Hursley heirs, Frandor and their parents were "'granted 10 percent of 100 percent of the net profits from domestic syndication of all programs of the ABC series and the same profit percentage with respect to foreign syndication of all shows produced and telecast by ABC after Jan. 3, 1969." They Hursleys were also reportedly granted a 10 percent share of ancillary rights, from merchandising, movie rights, etc. The complaint goes on to allege ABC refused to grant the Hursley children access to books and financial records regarding General Hospital until late 2010.
They say that from the few years of records ABC did produce, the auditors discovered "that ABC had breached the Agreement through various improper and incorrect accounting methods," which - what do you know? - "resulted in plaintiffs receiving less that what they are owed pursuant to the Agreement."
The Hursley heirs are seeking a "full accounting and damages, plus interest, for breach of contract, breach of faith." While ABC hasn't responded to the claims on record an ABC insider said this toSoap Opera Digest:
One ABC insider told Digest that the suit has no merit and, in light of the recent soap cancellations, called it, "A last ditch effort to get blood from a stone."