Producer Hedda Muskat claims that CAA and Ashton Kutcher’s production company deceived her and pushed her out as Co-Executive Producer on a reality series about the DMV. Claiming breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and promissory fraud in the complaint filed today in L.A. Superior Court (read it here), the Emmy-winning producer is seeking more than $12 million in damages plus other costs from the agency, Kutcher’s Katalyst Media and company co-owner Jason Goldberg. And she’s very clear about what the fallout from the now scrapped series cost her. “Katalyst’s reckless conduct and CAA’s failure to properly represent or protect Plaintiff has had the ultimate consequence of obliterating Plaintiff’s career in the entertainment industry and her reputation as a producer,” says the 16-page lawsuit. Katalyst sued the state agency for $1.4 million in August 2012 after the DMV pulled out of the proposed TRuTV series. After counterclaims and other legal actions, the parties settled the case earlier this year for $450,000. Some of that money, among other damages, is due to her, says Muskat. A producer on America’s Got Talent and A Current Affair among others, Muskat signed with CAA in April of 2009, according to Friday’s filing.
In June 2010, the Two And A Half Men star’s company and the DMV reached an agreement to work on a series featuring Motor Vehicle employees and patrons in various “humanizing and entertaining situations that arise on a daily basis” in DMV offices throughout California. In today’s filing, Muskat says the initial concept was hers based on an experience of her daughter’s at the DMV. She also claims that she built the relationships with DMV personnel to get them to agree to the show and she was encouraged by her new agency CAA to partner with Katalyst on the project. It worked out well – for a while. In May 2011 an agreement between Katalyst and the DMV was put into writing. Attached to today’s complaint, that agreement has Muskat as co-Executive Producer of the planned show. However six weeks later the state agency “abruptly and without justifiable excuse, changed course,” according to Katalyst’s 2012 suit. No so fast, says Muskat now. She lays the blame for this development on the defendants. “Due to Katalyst stripping Plaintiff of control and CAA’s failure to protect Plaintiff’s interests, the Project transformed into the same Hollywood autopilot production that the DMV feared it might become,” the complaint says. The DMV refused the production companies access to its offices and not long after, DMV Deputy Director Mike Marando told Katalyst producers that the proposed series was not in the agency’s “best interests” and they would not participate. Despite the past lawsuits and this latest one, the show was never made.
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Hedda Muskat is represented by Steven Lowe and Daniel Lifschitz of LA firm Lowe & Associates.
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