"On November 29, 2006, federal agents raided Agrama's home and offices in connection with Italy's ongoing tax fraud, embezzlement and false accounting investigation of its former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Court documents revealed the recent search by FBI agents centered on Italian allegations that Agrama, Berlusconi and others fraudulently inflated the price of television rights originally purchased by Agrama so that millions of dollars in kickbacks could be paid to executives of Berlusconi's Mediaset media empire.
On October 26, 2012, Agrama was convicted after a lengthy trial involving the buying and selling of US film rights to the Mediaset media company at inflated prices. As his age exceeded 70 years, he was exempted from direct imprisonment and served no actual jail time. According to the Los Angeles Times, on November 21, 2006 prosecutors in Milan, Italy charged Agrama, along with Berlusconi and ten others, in a trial over tax fraud, embezzlement and false accounting at Mediaset.
In October 2011, Paddy Chan Mei-yiu and Katherine Hsu May-chun, along with nine others (including Frank Agrama and Pier Silvio Berlusconi, son of Silvio Berlusconi), were indicted by a Milan court and charged with buying rights for US television series and movies, then reselling them to broadcasting rights firm Mediatrade (a subsidiary of Mediaset) at inflated prices and laundering the money in a complex scheme. The four companies allegedly involved in this scheme were Wiltshire Trading, Harmony Gold, CS Secretaries and Loong Po Management.
According to prosecutors, Chan met Agrama in Cannes, France in the late 1970s at a trade fair and they decided to form a partnership to trade movie rights internationally. Chan organized a Hong Kong-based Harmony Gold Limited in 1979, records from the city's Companies Registry show. In the same year, Agrama organized Agrama Film Enterprises on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Four years later, he set up Harmony Gold. He later also became the Los Angeles representative of another Hong Kong company established by Chan, Wiltshire Trading.
Prosecutors estimated the illicit profits between 1988 and 1999 amounted to US$170 million. Earlier in 2005, Swiss investigators froze 150 million francs (HK$1.29 billion) at a UBS branch in Lugano belonging to Harmony Gold, Wiltshire Trading and other companies.
On July 24, 2014, Variety reported that some of the charges have been dropped due to expiring statute of limitations. An appeals hearing was set to take place January 20, 2016. On January 18, 2016, all charges against Frank Agrama and five other people were dropped. Berlusconi and Mediaset Chairman Fedele Confalonieri were convicted and were sentenced to 13 months of imprisonment."
However, through a stroke of luck (i.e. a series of legal slip-ups) FASA’s lawyers got a hold of a number of letters during discovery that brought into question Harmony Gold’s sole ownership of the rights to Macross (https://www.eyrie.org/~robotech/hg-fasa/legal-3.txt). With the legal waters sufficiently muddied, Harmony Gold once again got cold feet, and offered to settle out of court.
FASA settled with Harmony Gold in 1996. Unfortunately, by the terms of the settlement FASA could no longer use the mech designs originally based on Macross and Dougram. In one fell swoop, 32 classic mechs became...
But even more than that, the thing is, ExoSquad is a good cartoon.
In fact, I'm not exaggerating for a moment when I say that, in my honest opinion, ExoSquad is one of the best American animated series of all time.
ExoSquad is to Saturday Morning Cartoons in the U.S. what Gundam was to the Super Robot genre in Japan. Together with Batman: The Animated Series , X-Men, and Mighty Max (I'll do a post on that one at some point), ExoSquad showed that cartoons ostensibly aimed at children could present mature themes, sophisticated continuing narratives, and deep characterization, potentially capturing an older audience.
Set at the beginning of the 22nd century, after mankind had colonized the solar system, "terraforming" Mars and Venus to become inhabitable, XOS followed an elite group of mecha pilots defending humanity from the Neo-Sapiens. But things were much more complex than that. The Neo-Sapiens weren't alien invaders, rather a genetically engineered slave race that humanity created to assist with planet terraforming. Their attacks were basically a slave revolt. And the show didn't shy away from showing the morally grey area the protagonists inhabited. Over 2 seasons XOS depicted a war opera from beginning to end, with dozens of subplots and several smaller stories interwined in the narrative showing the effects on the war on individuals, and the ethical struggles of all of those involved. To make matters even more complex, the war eventually has a third participant, the "Pirate Clans", descendants of human criminals exiled from their homeworlds a generation ago.
ExoSquad is everything the BattleTech animated series wasn't. And in a strange way, it's actually the closest thing to a good BattleTech cartoon we've ever seen.
If FASA had won their initial lawsuit against Playmates, would that have killed the cartoon early? Who then would be painted the villains in retrospect I wonder? Extend this further to Robotech. Does the success of one need to mean the other can't exist simultaneously? The creative landscape of the '80's would have been a poorer thing for the loss of either Robotech or BattleTech. And I don't believe for one second the presence of BattleTech hurt Robotech or vice versa? I really don't think so.
The Archer, Battlemaster, Crusder,
until they didn't...