EXCLUSIVE: The filings in Frank Darabont and CAA’s multimillion-dollar battle with AMC over the blockbuster zombie apocalypse series are coming faster now than Walkers towards a bellowing horn. AMC fired back again today mere week after the former The Walking Dead EP and the mega agency disdainfully replied to the “insidious” September 18 move by the cabler to see new claims in their August 4 complaint tossed.
And it is all in the fine print.
“Plaintiffs’ Opposition is a transparent attempt to obfuscate two indisputable facts that compel the granting of Defendants’ motion to dismiss (the ‘Motion’): (1) plaintiff Frank Darabont (“Darabont”) was removed from The Walking Dead (the ‘Series’) eight months before Season 2 ended and therefore did not render the ‘full-time executive producer/ showrunner services for Season 2’ required to vest under …the 2011 Amendment; and (2) Darabont is limited to the share of contingent compensation that vested as of his removal date, and he was removed eight months before the additional shares to which he now alleges entitlement …vested,” says the partially redacted reply (read it here) in support filed today in New York Supreme Court.
Simply put, AMC says again that Darabont seeking an additional “2.5% share of contingent compensation” is a non-starter in this nearly 2-year old legal equivalent of hand-to-hand combat.
Fired from TWD in July 2011 after the first season had finished and Season 2 was underway, Darabont and CAA sued AMC in December 2013 over the producer being cut out as a profit participant and wrongfully terminated. After battles over discovery, access to documents and ongoing high-level depositions, the plaintiffs put a FAC in front of Judge Ellen Bransten this summer. The wrongful termination was watered down, but now Darabont wanted potentially millions more in the case of alleged self-dealing and shell gaming by AMC over license fees and profits.
In the FAC, the producer and CAA claimed that AMC had reduced the profit participation Darabont says he is owed and said his vesting is now at 100%. The FAC also claimed that Darabont and CAA are owed a piece of “derivative productions” Fear The Walking Dead and aftershow The Talking Dead.
Many of the additions in the FAC and the plaintiffs’ efforts to reject AMC attempts to toss them revolve around Darabont’s role as EP on Season 2 of TWD. In their last filing, which was full of redactions, lawyers for Darabont and CAA included screenshots of the second-season credits with the former listed as an EP. They also included elements from the sealed deposition of Darabont’s TWD showrunner replacement Glen Mazzara that Darabont was EP on all episodes of the second season.
“Plaintiffs go to great lengths in arguing that, during the portion of Season 2 for which Darabont worked full-time until his removal in July 2011, certain of his creative efforts were so impressive that they eventually made their way into episodes of Season 2 that were produced after he left,” quips AMC’s attorneys today in response. “Under oath, Darabont confirmed that he stopped providing full-time executive producer and showrunner services on the Series after he was removed on July 27, 2011 in the middle of Season 2,” Tuesday’s reply adds, before a redacted portion of the Mob City EP’s deposition in the case.
The deposition of Mazzara, who himself was canned from TWD in December 2012 and replaced with present TWD showrunner Scott Gimple, is quoted in today’s reply, but you won’t know what he is alleged to have said because it’s redacted.
Today’s filing was accompanied by several exhibits but all were filed under seal. An educated guess is they’re not friendly to the plaintiffs, which means the ball is now in Darabont and CAA’s court.
Marc Kasowitz, Aaron Marks, John Berlinski and Mansi Shah of Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP’s NYC and LA offices in the case represent AMC. Jerry Bernstein and Nicholas Tambone of NYC firm Blank Rome LLP along with Dale Kinsella are handling things for Darabont and CAA with his fellow attorneys Chad Fitzgerald, Aaron Liskin and Nicholas Soltman at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP.