TV

‘Big Bang Theory’ Producers Sued For Using ‘Soft Kitty’ Without Credit

The hugely popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory has been polarizing over its 194 episodes. To its vast viewership, the show is a reliably humorous riff on nerd-dom and a comfortable clubhouse in which audiences can hang out for 22 minutes at a time. To those who do not care for The BBT, the program is a maddeningly unfunny behemoth keeping mainstream pop culture in a headlock, embodying all that is wrong with TV, and a pox on society. To these folks (no telling which camp I fall into), the mere mention of the word ‘bazinga’ can trigger a chronic case of the howling fantods.

To the latter camp, the descendants of New Hampshire-bred poet Edith Newlin have just become folk heroes. The Associated Press reports that Newlin’s daughters have filed a lawsuit against the producers of The Big Bang Theory, claiming that they unlawfully made use of one of their mother’s poems as the basis of a recurring lullaby on the show. Newlin authored a children’s tune called “Soft Kitty” (TMZ claims to have the sheet music) that her daughters purport was used by the studio in cooperation with Willis Music Co., but without notifying anyone in the family or crediting the Newlin family name on the show. What’s more, this lullaby has been a pretty central component of the show, having appeared in multiple advertisements, merchandising items, and used at various conventions. The Newlin clan, having received nary a penny, is out for blood (in a legal capacity).

The BBT team has yet to make a comment on the developing controversy, but a representative of the Willis Music Co. offered the following, via Deadline:

“In 1937, we published a book called Songs for the Nursery School, and we sold tens of thousands of copies,” Willis Music owner Kevin Cranley wrote on the company’s website, according to Deadline. “It is a hardbound book of over 150 songs for children. The book was written by Laura Pendleton MacCarteney. In that book on page 27 is ‘Warm Kitty.’ Warner Brothers and I worked together to secure the rights for the show The Big Bang Theory and they have been using the song ever since. The writers wanted the song because one of them remembered it as a child. They also wanted to slightly change the words and I’m really not sure of the reason for that change.”

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