Looks like CAA and their clients can breathe a little easier. In a hearing today a New York Supreme Court judge reaffirmed her ruling in the ongoing The Walking Dead lawsuit that the agency does not have to hand over to AMC a wide ranging big batch of documents looking at the deals of dozens and dozen of CAA clients. As well as restating her August ruling on the matter, Judge Eileen Bransten also tossed AMC’s attempt to gut the initial multi-million multi-claim complaint that the agency and ex-WD showrunner Frank Darabont filed on December 17 last year.
“We are pleased that the Court reaffirmed her ruling denying AMC’s outrageous and harassing requests for CAA’s nonparty client files,” Chad Fitzgerald of CAA and Darabont lawyers Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP told me after the hearing. “We look forward to vindicating our clients’ rights at trial.” The other side may have come up short in their efforts today but AMC are not publicly breaking a sweat. “Today’s hearing was procedural and nothing that happened is new or changes the fact that this case is meritless, a spokesmen for the company said Friday.
In a long festering battle over discovery in the case, AMC sought to have CAA open up its vaults. Now those doors are seemingly solidly closed. The only exceptions in the process is that all sides can look at documents related to Walking Dead as well licensing and other deals for Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Talking Dead and spinoffs of WD and the other mentioned series that the broadcaster airs. AMC had wanted a lot lot more out of this round. “Even if CAA’s Complaint did not repeatedly allege breaches of industry custom and practice – which it does – Defendants would still be entitled to the requested discovery because it is highly relevant to their defenses,” said AMC in a now obviously unsuccessful October 31 filing on the matter challenging the Judge’s summer decision.
CAA and Darabont took the entertainment company to court almost a year ago over unpaid fees, self-dealing, gross receipts and other claims. The plaintiffs have essentially said they were scammed out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster zombie apocalypse series. They also claim that AMC played a “self-dealing” artificially low license-fee shell game with the show based on the Robert Kirkman co-created graphic novels.
Not so much, said AMC. Dusting off the brass knuckles, the cable network reveled in paperwork of its own filed earlier this year that Darabont had been paid out nearly $3 million for his work on the first two seasons of WD before being pink slipped off the show he helped create in late July 2011. Since then it has been an almost constant volley of correspondence, with both sides demanding documents from the other and urging Bransten to find in their favor.
Now at least one round has ended – for now.
Marc E. Kasowitz, Aaron H. Marks, John Berlinski and Mansi Shah of Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP NYC and LA offices are representing AMC in the matter. Jerry Bernstein and Harris Cogan of NYC firm Blank Rome LLP along with Dale Kinsella represent Darabont and CAA plus Fitzgerald and Aaron Liskin of Santa Monica firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP.