EXCLUSIVE: It may have been a good-looking show, but Fashion Rocks was neither highly rated nor well-paying for CBS. In fact, in a well-phrased breach of contract complaint filed this week against producer Three Lions Entertainment, the broadcaster says it is owed at least $2.4 million for airing the poorly rated two-hour special in September and the Eye wants its dough.
“These ‘lions’ have shown themselves to be cowardly in the extreme when it comes to honoring contractual obligations,” CBS scolds in Monday’s filing (read it here) in the Supreme Court of New York.
But it seems Three Lions — founded in March 2013 by former Prometheus Global Media and Hollywood Reporter boss Richard Beckman, billionaire Ron Burkle and Greenberg Traurig’s Joel Katz — have no clothes. Which means, for all its lawyers and wit, CBS may have a hard time getting what its says it is owed. “Three Lions has not disputed the fact that the Contract Payment is due under the Network Television Agreement,” the complaint reads. “To the contrary, during a telephone conversation with Richard Beckman of Three Lions on October 21, 2014, in which CBS demanded payment, Three Lions informed CBS that its financial situation prevents it from being able to pay the amount due and that Three Lions is ‘insolvent.’ ”
Sources inform Deadline that Burkle ceased further funding of the venture several months ago. Efforts to raise additional capital consequently suffered because of a low rating evaluation. A check of Three Lions’ homepage today found only the logo and the words “Creditors Click Here.”
At the time the new venture was announced, Beckman and Three Lions intended to bring Fashion Rocks back after a five-year absence from TV. But the Ryan Seacrest-hosted special starring Jennifer Lopez, Usher and Justin Bieber tanked on September 9 with an embarrassingly low 0.6/2 and 2.28 million viewers. That was the lowest-rated show of the night among the Big 4 and the least watched — even the now cancelled Utopia beat Fashion Rocks.
And there is more intrigue than just the cash. “During the negotiation of the Network Television Agreement, Three Lions initially agreed to pay CBS a fee of one million, nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($1,950,000), and to pay an additional five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (“NARAS”), a client of Three Lions’ principal Joel Katz and his partner in the Greenberg Traurig law firm, Bobby Rosenbloum, for the use of certain NARAS-owned trademarks and other intellectual property,” says the five-page complaint. In a what seems like a too-trusting move on CBS’ part and a shell game on the other side’s, the complaint says Rosenbloum convinced the broadcaster to pay the fee to NARAS and include it in what Three Lions owed. “Whether by coincidence or design, Katz and Rosenbloum thereby protected their client NARAS from the risk of a Three Lions default while increasing the risk borne by CBS,” the complaint reads.
Clothes obviously do not make the company.
CBS is represented in the matter by Sarah L. Reid and Sojin Yoon of NYC firm Kelley Drye & Warren LLP.