By  on March 29, 1994

NEW YORK -- The Roseanne Arnold line of large-size clothing, which was to make its debut next month, has exploded into a court battle.

The star has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against CelebSales here, the apparel company that was set to manufacture the line under her label.

Mickey Robins, Arnold's lawyer, said the contract for the license was terminated and a lawsuit filed on March 15 after Stanley Warner, president of CelebSales, failed to make a $250,000 payment due on March 1. The payment, the second of four scheduled $250,000 payments, was originally due on Dec. 15, but was extended to March 1, according to Robins.

Robins said Warner was sent a notice of termination within 10 days if no payment was received.

Arnold herself could not be reached for comment.

Not shy about discussing the situation, Warner maintains that this is a contractual dispute over the right to merchandise the line on television, among other things.

"When we signed the contract we had every intention of showing it on television," said Warner. "They say we would jeopardize her business."

According to Robins, Warner never had the right to merchandise the line on TV and the bottom line of the dispute is that Warner failed to make the scheduled payments. In the suit, Roseanne and Tom Arnold are asking for $750,000 and the return of the designs and patterns of the line.

Robins called Warner's allegations "patently false," and added, "He's known since the beginning of negotiations that we made the decision not to merchandise the clothes on television at this time. We don't need someone like Stanley Warner to take us on television. This was strictly for department stores and some specialty chains." That just isn't so, according to Warner, who insists that he still holds the license and is planning to go forward with a show to introduce the line at the restaurant Metronome here on April 10.

"We will defend our actions in court," said Warner. "We will not be browbeaten. The show must go on."

Later in the interview, however, Warner said: "We just want to get our money back, surrender the name and go forward with the clothes under a different name. I'd rather have Hitler's name on the clothes than Roseanne's."Robins said that if Warner goes ahead with the fashion show at the restaurant, he will be sued.

"He has no right to use her name," said Robins. "Anything shown by Stanley Warner is not authorized by Roseanne. The license has been terminated."

Steven Seltzer, a lawyer for Stanley Warner, said: "All I can tell you is the contract is in question. The contract hasn't been adjudicated."

"We've invested $700,000," said Warner. "They've invested nothing. Tom [Arnold] told me that Roseanne invested $1 million worth of her time in selecting buttons."

Warner told WWD last December, when he signed the licensing agreement, that the deal would net the Arnolds "several million dollars" and that he projected first-year wholesale volume at $20 million.

Further defending his actions, Warner said Arnold's February cover story in Vanity Fair, in which she said she wants to kill herself every day and has slept with women, hurts the line's credibility with retailers.

"All of this happened after the first payment," he said. "If she had said all of this before, there would be no problem because we wouldn't have made the first payment."

"Warner knew what she was like before going into business," said Robins. "Roseanne has never been shy about herself. Nothing was hidden from Stanley."

Robins said Arnold will now pursue a line of clothing with another manufacturer.

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