“The Walking Dead” developer Frank Darabont and his agency CAA filed a lawsuit against AMC, alleging the network engaged in “self dealing” by low-balling the license fee for the show and using questionable accounting techniques that deprived profit participants of compensation, Nellie Andreeva reports on Deadline.com.
The complaint also claims Darabont was wrongfully fired from the show and should continue to receive executive producing credit and proceeds from related shows, including “Talking Dead” and an upcoming spinoff from Robert Kirkman, the creator of the graphic novel that formed the show’s basis, the story says.
AMC declined comment on the lawsuit, the story notes. Darabont and CAA are requesting unspecified monetary damages.
“Judging by the history of vertical integration lawsuits, the odds are small that the dispute would go to trial," Andreeva writes. "There have been a slew of ‘self dealing’ complaints since the 1995 relaxation of TV’s financial interest-syndication rules — all of them eventually settled."
“The list includes ‘Home Improvement’ producers’ suit against Disney, ‘NYPD Blue’ exec producer Steven Bochco’s, ‘X-Files’ star David Duchovny’s and ‘M*A*S*H’ star Alan Alda’s complaints against 20th Century Fox TV, and more recently ‘Will & Grace’ creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan’s case against NBC and ‘Smallville’ creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough’s against Warner Bros TV,” Andreeva writes.
She adds, “The difference is that Darabont was also fired from the show early into its run, a move Darabont and CAA are using in their case against AMC. The lawsuit, filed [Tuesday] with the New York Supreme Court, comes after sources say efforts by Darabont and CAA to resolve their issues were ‘fundamentally rebuffed’ by AMC.”
The complaint alleges that Darabont “has not received and may never receive one dollar in Profits for developing the Series” despite four seasons of hit ratings and profitability for AMC.
The lawsuit also alleges that AMC fired Darabont without cause soon before the second season aired “precisely in order to avoid its contractual obligations to pay him increased Profits (which vested fully at the conclusion of Season 2) and to avoid its obligation to negotiate to hire him as showrunner for Season 3.”
The complaint also claims that AMC “was unable or unwilling to give any specific reasons for Darabont’s abrupt termination. AMC could not explain why Darabont was not given any notice, warning, or opportunity to cure any perceived problems” when asked for an explanation.