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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Legal Action Possible Over the Obama "Curious George" T-Shirts

Owner of the Curious George book rights, issued a statement saying they are " weighing our options with respect to possible legal action", regarding the sale of T-Shirts with cartoon chimp Curious George peeling a banana, with "Obama in '08" underneath.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt owns the bookrights to Curious George, who is a cartoon monkey character that is popular with children and has been for years. Harcourt issued a statement after the reports came out about the owner of Mulligan's Bar and Grill, Mike Norman, started selling T-shirts with Curious George peeling a banana, with "Obama in '08" written beneath the picture.

The statement from Harcourt said that the T-shirts were "offensive and utterly out of keeping with the values Curious George represents." He continues with, "We are monitoring the situation and weighing our options with respect to possible legal action.”

As reported yesterday, Norman says he didn't mean the T-shirts to be racially offensive and thought they were "cute" and continued on to say, "We're not living in the '40's. Look at him . . . the hairline, the ears — he looks just like Curious George."

In the midst of protests from a dozen or so people outside Norman's tavern as well as others that think he has the right to sell the controversial T-shirts rallying behind him, news crews were parked in the driveway of Mulligans as his phone rang off the hook with requests from Fox, WXIA and radio talk show hosts that wanted to speak to him.

According to Mike Norman, "This is a lot of hullabaloo about nothing." he believes that the recent damage from tornadoes and such deserve to be reported on far more than his T-shirts, which reports now say he has sold out of because of all this publicity.

Marietta Mayor, Bill Dunaway, weighed in yesterday saying, "I abhor the sale of these T-shirts. I am proud of this city, I am proud of the race relations that the city has had."

Norman acknowledged the charged history of the "monkey" association, but said, "this is 2008. This is not 1941 in Alabama, so get over it."

In the meantime there is another Mulligans Grill, this one in Alpharetta, that seems to be getting a massive amount of calls from people mistaking them for the Mulligans in Marietta.

Michelle Malas, an employee at the Alpharetta Mulligans says, "Our bartender was literally cussed out. We've tried to explain it's not us. Different owner, not same company."

Where the Mulligans in Marietta has loyal customers standing behind Norman and has sold out of the T-shirts, the one in Alpharetta claims it is suffering with empty tables on what usually is one of their busiest nights.

Norman is out of the T-shirts and really isn't sure if he is going to order more despite people calling to order them because he says he is not in the T-shirt business, but the media is more than willing to extend his 15 minutes of fame anyway as his phone rings and an employee answers it, covers the mouthpiece and whispers, "It's CBS in Los Angeles."