Bob Ross Inc. is not too happy with Netflix's documentary centered on the famous painter, Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal, and Greed, or its producers Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy. Ross's estate released a public statement on the controversial film, which details the seemingly innocent painter's dark legacy that's riddled with lawsuits, calling the film "inaccurate and heavily slanted." "Bob Ross Inc. takes strong issue with the inaccurate and heavily slanted portrayal of our company in the Netflix film, Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed," the company said on its website.
"Since the founding of Bob Ross Inc. in 1984, all of its equal partners – Bob and Jane Ross, and Walt and Annette Kowalski – shared the same goal: to promote and support the value of painting around the world. This was the company's mission from its inception, through the latter days of Bob Ross' life, and remains the company's driving purpose after Bob's untimely death over 25 years ago," the statement continued."If not for the efforts of the remaining founders and their dedication to this mission, Bob's artistic and cultural relevance – and his expressed desire to become the world's most beloved painting teacher and friend – would have been lost decades ago with his passing."
The company went on, adding that producers weren't completely truthful in sharing how the company would be portrayed. "While the producers of the Netflix film did contact Bob Ross Inc. twice, in late August and October 2020, each request arrived replete with a confounding lack of transparency. At no time did they pose specific questions to Bob Ross Inc. or ask for any form of rebuttal to specific assertions they had decided to include in the film. Nor was it stated that they had a distribution deal with Netflix," it said.
"Had the filmmakers communicated with openness in their correspondence, Bob Ross Inc. could have provided valuable information and context in an attempt to achieve a more balanced and informed film. However, as the director and producers carried on with the production without the perspective of Bob Ross Inc., the final narrative lacks considerable nuance and accuracy and carries a clear bias in favor of those who were interviewed," it continued. "After seeing media reports about the film's summer release, Bob Ross Inc. attempted to reach out to the filmmakers in May 2021 to offer comment. They did not return calls or emails and finally responded through their attorney. We provided a comprehensive statement, and the filmmakers chose not to use it."
Falcone and McCarthy responded to the message, saying that they never intended to make a slanted portrayal of the artist. "We've never intended to set out and create a hit piece," Falcone told NPR. "We like Bob Ross and we still do. We were surprised to uncover some of the things we uncovered. And I think the filmmakers, [director] Josh [Rofé] and [producer] Steven [Berger], really did a nice job of making a … complicated, balanced movie out of a character that is complicated. We found out things about him that we didn't expect. Nobody's perfect."
"When someone is an artist, no matter what their medium is, … there's a business behind it," McCarthy added. "And I would venture to guess that business is always much more complicated than the personality that they lead with."