by Jeremy Rogers
“Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” Some may read that and think of the catchy theme song for the popular 90s educational television show Bill Nye the Science Guy. However instead of song lyrics, that is actually the famous scientist demanding Disney pay his bill for playing the role of the Science Guy so many years ago.
Nye’s lawsuit filed for “[Disney]’s failure to account for and pay [Bill Nye] his owed share of revenue participation from the sale, distribution and other exploitation of [Bill Nye the Science Guy].” So according to Nye, after Disney’s subsidiary Buena Vista demanded that Nye repay roughly 85% of a $585,123 royalty check due to an “accounting error” on their part when they sent him the check. Nye instantly became suspicious, so he decided to try to sit down with Disney and Buena Vista to negotiate how he was being paid. In the face of this inquiry, the companies were uneager to cooperate with Nye, even though it was their legal duty to do so. Buena Vista stopped paying Nye royalties the next year in 2008.
Once it became clear that Disney seemed to be hiding something, Nye arranged for an auditor to go over Disney and Buena Vista’s financial records. This investigation was stymied for years and received few substantial documents from Disney.
The documents that were recovered seemed to confirm Nye’s suspicions: Disney seemed to have been underreporting earnings and ignoring Nye’s 16.5% cut from the show’s profits. Nye claims to have lost out on $9.4 million while Disney, Buena Vista, ABC Television (also owned by The Mouse), and other affiliated defendants were able to take over $28 billion to the bank.
The Walt Disney Company has yet to comment on these allegations.
Jeremy is junior majoring in News Journalism and Telecommunications and minoring in Political Science and American History. Though he is Byte’s Senior News Editor, he also writes reviews, features, and guest stars on podcasts.