Designer Kelly Denato has filed suit against Animation Collective alleging that she has not been paid royalties owed her on the character designs for the series ELLEN'S ACRES, reports THE WALL STREET JOURNAL . The defendants in the case include Animation Collective; its CEO Larry Schwarz; Kanonen & Bestreichen, Inc.; and 4Kids Entertainment, Inc.
Denato's claim argues that she was owed a fixed rate of 25% on all revenue earned by her artwork through either books, merchandising or animated projects. She alleges the defendants have kept sales figures from her, making it impossible to determine exactly how much she is owed. She is seeking more than $1 million in the suit.
Denato states she signed the original royalty contract in 2002, but Animation Collective tried to renegotiate the agreement and diminish her cut once the show has sold to Cartoon Network. She goes as far as saying an Animation Collective exec told her the original contract was a mistake.
Originally, Denato's work was intended for a children's book, ELLEN'S 11-STAR SPECTACULAR SUPER DELUXE HOTEL, but eventually became the groundwork for the design of the ACRES TV series. Her upfront payment for the book was $9,000, but never received royalty payments after that.
None of the defendants or Cartoon Network commented on the suit.