I saw the Mad Men Barbies. Pretty good resemblance, but does Jon Hamm get an extra cash payment for that?
—JameeFr1, Texas via the Answer B!tch mailbox
Indeed, the Don Draper Barbie does capture some of Draper's existentialist ennui, if not his inner demons spurring from all the lies he's living. Sounds like a fun dolly!
Speaking of fun, there's also this way adorable, blocky Lego rendition of Jake Gyllenhaal's Prince of Persia character. But is there money forthcoming from all that happy plastic?
Not likely, entertainment attorneys tell me.
"In most circumstances these rights get dealt with as part of the initial deal with the actor," says Miles J. Feldman of the law firm Liner Grode Stein.
Courts have heard arguments about just how much an actor's image is entwined in an iconic character. But "generally," Feldman says, "the copyright holder has the exclusive rights to exploit the characters."
In other words, no extra pay, really. Everything's built in to the actor's fee or weekly salary.
Unless a TV show's producers didn't anticipate huge success when they first signed on the actors—the kind of popularity that spurs Barbies.
In that case, the show producers or toy manufacturers may cut a separate, new deal with the actors after a show is hot, but only in the context of the franchise, such as Mad Men. Enter a Don Draper doll, dressed in all his ring-a-ding-ding finery, but not a Jon Hamm doll.
That would be a thoroughly unrelated type of hot.
None of this means that stars don't get some involvement in their toy merchandising.
When NBC announced a charity auction of some signed bobble heads modeled after The Office character Dwight Schrute, the actor who played him, Rainn Wilson, got to choose the charity.
See what's cooking at the megaplex in our Top 10 Movies @ the Box Office gallery.