The sequel and separated rights to the 1965 CBS sitcom 'Hogan's Heroes' have been disputed in court for the past three years; finally, an arbiter ruled in favor of returning the rights to the original creators of the historical comedy, Al Ruddy and the late Bernard Fein. Why were Ruddy and the Fein estate working so hard to get their hands on these rights? Because they are collaborating on a feature film ensemble comedy adaptation of the popular sitcom, to be set in a World War II German POW camp like the series.
On March 1, Arbiter Joel M. Grossman awarded Ruddy and the Fein estate rights to 'Hogan's Heroes' which include include movies, publication, merchandising, radio and live rights, as well as TV sequel rights. The creators were embattled with Bing Crosby Productions, the company that produced 'Hogan's Heroes,' and a production house whose rights are now owned by eccentric billionaire Mark Cuban.
'Hogan's Heroes' ran for six seasons and bridged the interesting chasm between the horrors of wartime and the comedy of the prisoners' predicament. Drawing on the humorous buoyancy of the Marx Brothers, the show featured characters in the worst possible situation, determined to crack jokes and see the brightside of living together in Stalag 13. Col. Hogan was the defacto leader of a group of prisoners (three Americans, one British, one French) in the German camp who would routinely trick the German Col. Klink in order to allow his Allied men to perform secret operations, fighting against the Nazis from the inside.
Ruddy, the surviving creator and writer of 'Hogan's Heroes,' is also known for producing feature film classics like 'The Godfather' and 'Million Dollar Baby.' There are talks that the precedent set by this ruling may inspire other embattled creators to seek further litigation in order to reclaim their intellectual properties.
Who would you cast in a 'Hogan's Heroes' feature?