TV personality claims copyright infringement
Carol Burnett has filed a $2 million copyright infringement lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming her cleaning woman character was portrayed on the animated series “Family Guy.”
The U.S. District Court suit filed Thursday said the Fox Broadcasting show didn’t have her permission to include her Charwoman character in an April 2006 episode.
A character in the episode comments that a porn shop is clean because “Carol Burnett works part-time as a janitor” and the scene shifts to show a woman dressed like Burnett’s Charwoman character with a mop and pail, according to the lawsuit.
Burnett and her company Whacko Inc. contend the show used the character without permission along with an “altered version” of the theme music to her old TV series.
The episode also referred to the ear tug Burnett always did at the end of her show.
A character says that Burnett tugged her ear because “she was really saying good night to her mom.” Another character gives a response that the lawsuit described as “vulgar.”
The suit said Fox refused demands to edit the show to remove the scene.
Besides copyright infringement, Burnett, 73, alleges 20th Century Fox violated her publicity rights and misappropriated her likeness and name.
The studio said it was surprised by the suit over what amounted to about an 18-second scene.
” ‘Family Guy,’ like ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ is famous for its pop culture parodies and satirical jabs at celebrities. We are surprised that Ms. Burnett, who has made a career of spoofing others on television, would go so far as to sue ‘Family Guy’ for a simple bit of comedy,” said 20th Century Fox Television spokesman Chris Alexander.