Warner Brothers Television finds itself embroiled in two lawsuits this week over popular shows — one as the plaintiff, one as the defendant.
First, in what The Hollywood Reporter referred to as a "surprise pre-holiday move," WBTV sued CBS over "Two and a Half Men":
In a surprise pre-holiday move, Warner Bros. Television on Tuesday filed a $49 million breach of contract lawsuit against CBS, claiming that the network has refused to pay agreed-upon fees for airing the hit comedy "Two and a Half Men."
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that as part of CBS' renegotiated license agreement to air "Men" for a fifth and sixth season, it agreed to pay WBTV a premium above the initial license fee schedule and reimburse the studio for costs associated with the production of TV's top-rated comedy. This "deficit recoupment," as the term is commonly known, required CBS to pony up if the show reached specific ratings milestones in its fourth season.
"CBS has reaped the benefits of the tremendous success of 'Two and a Half Men" but wants to deny Warner Bros. the right to its agreed-upon share," the complaint argues.
Then, one day later, WBTV was on the other side of litigation, as the target of a lawsuit from "Gilmore Girls" executive producer Gavin Polone. As The Hollywood Reporter reports, the lawsuit is also a breach of contract suit, and it centers on the producer's compensation:
The breach-of-contract lawsuit, which names WBTV; the WB, which aired "Gilmore Girls" for from 2000-2006; and the CW, which ran the series' final seventh season, was filed Dec. 24 in Los Angeles Superior Court by Hufflund/Polone, Polone's company with Judy Hofflund.
The complaint accuses vertically integrated Time Warner companies WBTV and the WB of "self-dealing at all levels" and claims that they "have colluded to defraud the originator of hit 'Gilmore Girls' television series with a scheme that rivals the greed and bravado of any story line defendants could script."
The suit refers to a 2000 agreement between Hofflund/Polone and WBTV and its 2002 amendment that guaranteed the producing company a percentage of the "modified adjusted gross," the money the show earns after costs are deducted.
While Hofflund/Polone agrees that early in its run "Gilmore Girls" was in the red, the company disputes WBTV's 2006 statement that through the first six seasons the series' modified adjusted gross was still a $53 million deficit.
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