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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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A Munster of a Problem

8 October 2003

Chances are the last time you saw veteran actor Al Lewis it was on an old rerun of "The Munsters", a camp TV classic from the sixties on which Lewis played a curmudgeon vampire known as Grandpa.

Or perhaps, if you're a casino player, it was when you were playing a "Munster" themed multi-line video slot machine on which his vampire character is depicted along with all the other characters from the show.

Al Lewis himself got pretty mad two years ago when he strolled into an Atlantic City casino and saw his beloved Grandpa character on a Munster machine.

Lewis, who is anti-gambling, became so upset that he set the wheels in motion to do something about it. Last month he and fellow Munsters actors Pat Priest and Patrick Lilley filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, against slot manufacturer International Game Technology, Universal Studios, and Monaco Entertainment Corp.

The suit charges the companies with failing to obtain the necessary licenses from the actors to use the likenesses, as well as film clips that are incorporated into the play of the machines. Furthermore, they are seeking an injunction that would remove Munsters-themed slot machines from casinos nationwide.

Although there were five main characters on the Munsters, only three are named in the suit. Fred Gwynne, who played Herman, is deceased. Yvonne DeCarlo, who played Lilly, opted not to join the suit.

Pat Priest, who played Marilyn, and Patrick Lilley (whose stage name is Butch Patrick), who played Eddie, joined with Lewis in an attempt to recover what the actors are owed under licensing contracts they signed with Universal Studios nearly 40 years ago.

International Game Technology employs a team of experts whose responsibility it is to properly write contracts in regard to licensing images.

IGT maintains it purchased the rights to the Munsters images from Universal Studios. Lewis, his attorney maintains, began receiving a percentage of the merchandising revenue from the slot machines. The attorney added, however, that the actors are entitled to more money under a separate contract with the Screen Actors Guild.

We'll see how this one shakes out. I find it amazing that with all the images of TV and movie icons that slot machine manufacturers have borrowed to make play appealing to children from the sixties, the Munsters deal may be flawed.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp