Lee Mendelson, co-writer of A Charlie Brown Christmas' signature tune "Christmas Time is Here," is suing Dollywood based on the accusation that the theme park has used the song in its 'Twas the Night Before Christmas stage show without permission since 2007.
TMZ broke the news on Wednesday (Oct. 9). Lee Mendelson Film Productions own the rights to the song, which first appeared in 1965 on one of the best-loved holiday television specials and soundtrack albums.
Per TMZ, Mendelson's suit claims that his company contacted Dolly Parton's theme park last year about its unauthorized use of the song, yet the park continues incorporating it into its Christmas show without proper licensing.
The Pigeon Forge, Tennessee theme park, located near Knoxville in the Smoky Mountains, is being asked to pay for past performances and cease use of the holiday classic until it acquires proper permission to pay future homage to the Peanuts gang.
Footage online of the stage show in question capture both Mendelson's song and the use of its familiar piano melody as background music.
This year's run of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is slated for Nov. 9 to Jan. 4. Per the Dollywood website, the show tells the story of a family's Christmas miracle, aided by a "mysterious, white-bearded stranger" and featuring "dancing mice, singing sailors and a young girl's belief in Santa."
As for Meldelson's song, he wrote its lyrics on an envelope in about 15 minutes after giving up on finding the right songwriter to pen a Christmas carol to go along with jazz composer Vince Guaraldi's instrumental intro.