The blood has truly started flowing today in former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA’s lawsuit against AMC over unpaid fees, self-dealing and other claims. Just three days after the cable station sent a letter to the judge in the case slamming the producer and the agency’s “ill-conceived theory of the case” and advocating a rejection of the plaintiff’s idea of the disputed confidentiality order, Darabont and CAA have struck back. “Plaintiffs respectfully submit that the Letter Response is either an intentional effort to obfuscate Plaintiffs’ claims or, more likely, designed for purposes unrelated to discovery,” says a letter today (read it here) from Darabont and CAA’s lawyer Jerry Bernstein of NYC firm Blank Rome LLP. “In any event, Defendants are attempting to argue their bizarre contract interpretations during what should be a routine discovery dispute.” Related: AMC Slams “Ill-Conceived” ‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit From Frank Darabont & CAA The 6-page letter goes on to say that “this could be resolved easily if Defendants agreed that ‘highly confidential’ documents were for outside litigation counsel’s eyes only, or that all parties be treated equally and fairly regarding who may see ‘highly confidential’ documents.” After developing the Robert Kirkman graphic novels into the TV series, Darabont was suddenly cut loose from The Walking Dead in late July 2011. This case is about what he and his agency say they should have been paid afterwards as well as AMC’s alleged attempts to underplay the financial success of the series with low licensing deals and other dodges. “It is unfortunate that Defendants are using this protective order issue as an excuse to delay producing documents indefinitely—even documents they have agreed to produce,” today’s letter also says. Long story short: in their May 16 letter to NY Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten, AMC argued that Darabont and CAA were not only wrong at the basis of their December 17 complaint over cash owed to the producer from his stint on The Walking Dead but that the documents being requested by the plaintiffs would give too many eyes “access to highly sensitive proprietary and confidential information that bears no relevance to Plaintiffs’ claims.” This latest back and forth in the case started on May 2 when Bernstein wrote to the Judge Bransten seeking a conference over a disputed confidentiality order so the discovery process could move forward. Except for a terse point-by-point reply in late February rejecting the complaint, the potentially multi-million case hasn’t really since a lot of action since the plaintiffs’ initial filing late last year. That’s changing now with the letters flying faster than axes taking off zombie heads on the blockbuster series “Plaintiffs have requested documents related to the license fees for Mad Men and Breaking Bad, two of AMC’s most popular shows after The Walking Dead, both of which were produced by unaffiliated studios,” notes Darabont and CAA’s attorney today over some of the disputed material and the license fee information they could reveal. “What AMC Network gave and obtained ‘in similar transactions with unrelated third party distributors for comparable programs’ is not only relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims, it is foundational. AMC’s arguments to the contrary do not survive the barest of scrutiny.” Darabont and CAA are represented by Bernstein and Harris Cogan of NYC firm Blank Rome LLP along with Dale Kinsella plus Aaron Liskin and Chad Fitzgerald of powerhouse Santa Monica firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kemp & Aldisert LLP.Kasowitz, Aaron Marks, John Berlinski and Mansi Shah of NYC firm. Mark Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP are representing AMC in the case.
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