February 12, 2013

‘Dukes of Hazzard’ sheriff settles with Warner Bros.

James Best said he was due royalties for 'Dukes of Hazzard' merchandise bearing his likeness.

Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane settled up without a fight.

Character actor James Best of Hickory, known best for his role as the bumbling lawman who pursued Luke and Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard,” settled his civil suit against Warner Bros. before jury selection was to begin Monday in federal court in Statesville.

Best, 86, said he was due royalties for “Dukes of Hazzard” merchandise bearing his likeness.

Though the settlement wasn’t made public, Best had said in his lawsuit, filed in August 2011, that Warner Bros. underestimated the royalties, and he could have been due $5 million to $25 million or more for the early years of the show alone. In letters to Best cited in the suit, Warner said his share was less.

“Dukes of Hazzard,” about the adventures of the Duke cousins and their Dodge Charger “General Lee,” ran on CBS from 1979 to 1985.

Best is still active in show business. Last year, he had a role in “Return of the Killer Shrews,” based on the 1959 B-horror movie “The Killer Shrews.” In that one, Best played a ship’s captain forced by a storm to land passengers on an island populated by huge, ravenous mutant shrews. In the 2012 take, he played a ship’s captain hired by a reality show to land passengers on an island populated by the same critters.

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