DES MOINES, Iowa — The actor who played Jethro Bodine in the 1960s television series "The Beverly Hillbillies" is suing CBS, arguing the broadcaster made inappropriate deals with an Iowa restaurant chain to use the character's name.
Max Baer Jr. filed a lawsuit Tuesday arguing that he had reached a deal with CBS in 1991 giving him rights to use the TV character to establish a chain of restaurants, hotels and casinos.
The lawsuit contends Baer's rights to the character have been undermined by the Jethro's BBQ restaurant chain, which is based in Des Moines.
Bruce Gerleman, the chain's owner, told The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1Ba4YLS ) the company isn't named as a defendant and that customers have nothing to worry about.
"We own the name, we own the trademark, it will always be Jethro's BBQ in Des Moines, Iowa," he said.
A CBS spokeswoman said it has made great efforts over the years to try to amicably resolve the issue with Baer and will continue to do so.
Under the agreement between Baer and CBS, the actor has spent up to $1 million in efforts to develop his business, the lawsuit states. Baer also has paid royalties to CBS for merchandise, including revenue from themed slot machines and a brand of BBQ sauce.
Baer's attorney, Jon Freis, said his client was "kept completely in the dark" about negotiations between the broadcasting company and the Iowa businessman over the chain restaurant.
Jethro's BBQ opened in 2008. CBS contacted Gerleman saying it owned the rights to the TV character and other themes from the show. The parties reached an out-of-court agreement, and Jethro's BBQ changed certain features of restaurants, including food dishes named after some characters.