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Lawsuit: New Year's Rockin' Eve Not Actually Rockin'
SAN FRANCISCO (CAP) - A California law firm is mounting a massive class action lawsuit against Walt Disney Inc., owners of ABC television, and Dick Clark Enterprises LLC, claiming that the popular New Year's Rockin' Eve television special is, in fact, not rockin'.
"Any event that features an annual segment where you wheel out an elderly stroke victim is, by definition, not rockin'," said Cary Bernstein of the firm Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky. "I'm just saying."
Critics have generally conceded that the special has been less rockin' since Clark's 2004 stroke and the 2005 addition of co-host Ryan Seacrest, who has not had a stroke, say experts. But the lawsuit argues that the special has actually never been rockin', with the possible exception of 1973 when it was hosted by Three Dog Night.
And even then, "after Mama Told Me Not To Come, it was all downhill," says Bernstein.
The suit reads: "The plaintiffs hereby allege that, A) New Year's Rockin' Eve has perpetuated a decades-long fraud upon the American people, promising them an experience that is, quote, rockin', but that in fact has failed to live up to its promotional assertions, and, B) such failures have led to actionably unsatisfactory New Year's Eves for millions of Americans."
The suit seeks compensatory damages of $600 million.
Among the first to sign on to the suit were members of the Chess Lovers of San Bernadino, a California hobbyist group, who say their gatherings to watch the specials have inevitably ended in guests losing interest and being forced to engage in awkward small talk.
"And in 2008 it got even worse when all our Zunes crashed," said Neal Smerlitz, who plans the group's annual New Year's Eve gala. "We had to turn up the TV volume, and after a half hour listening to [co-host] Kellie Pickler, several of our members suffered seizures."
Pickler, incidentally, has not been invited back to the program, and rumor has it that at one point that year during a commercial break, Clark make an almost superhuman effort to get up from his wheelchair and hit her with his cane in order to shut her up.
In a statement, ABC and Dick Clark countered the charges, claiming, "New Year's Rockin' Eve has a long history of rockin', spotlighting such rockin' acts as Andy Gibb, the Thompson Twins and Lisa Loeb. We've also, in fact, featured the rockin' sounds of Daughtry."
Daughtry is apparently an American band whose lead singer had been a finalist on American Idol. Its output is classified as "rock" by some retail outlets.
Bernstein says his firm is undeterred, however. "For us, it's not about the $60 million the firm will make when we win this lawsuit," he said. "It's about Americans who deserve a New Year's Eve with entertainment that truly is as rockin' as they were promised it would be."
Three Dog Night did not return calls seeking comment.
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