Facing a March 19, 2018 trial start, CBS wants a multi-million dollar lawsuit over profits and salary for Judge Judy dismissed but Judy Sheindlin herself wants the Les Moonves run company to know that she’s the boss.
“CBS had no choice but to pay me what I wanted because otherwise I could take it wherever I wanted to take it or do it myself,” boosted the TV judge in a deposition from last summer in the case that Rebel Entertainment first filed in March 2016. “Their back’s to the wall,” she asserted of CBS, who an acerbic Sheindlin called a “partner” not her “boss.”
“They pay me the money that they do because they have no choice,” the decades on the air ex-family court judge stated very matter of fact in the depo. “They can’t find another one.”
“I can produce this show myself for decades,” the recently re-upped for a 25th season and another big payout for her library Sheindlin added in the July 11, 2016 testimony that was made public this month. “I choose not to do that because of my age and because of the fact that I like the uncomplicated life I lead,” the $47-million a year paid Sheindlin concluded in the often long winded deposition that reiterates many of the points in her initial response to the suit last year.
As Judge Judy told lawyers how she lays down the money law with CBS in a yearly lunch and an envelope of succinct demands, CBS earlier this month submitted paperwork in L.A. Superior Court to cut Rebel’s action down to size before things even get close to a possible trial.
First filed on March 14 last by the successor-in-interest to the talent agency that originally packaged the Sheindlin-fronted series, the matter has taken a while to get to the cusp of summary judgment. Not that CBS didm’t hit back in mid-April last year with allegations of fraudulent misrepresentation by the planftiff.
A first trial date of October 23 this year was pencilled in last year, but has clearly been pushed back – which CBS clearly thinks should pushed way back, if not eventually over a cliff.
“Rebel is not (and does represent) a Judge Judy writer, creator, performer, producer, financier, or crew member,” said the Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton lawyers for CBS Studios, CBS Corporation and CBS-owned Big Ticket Entertainment in an August 11 memo of law accompanying the motion for summary adjudication (read it here). “Despite this, it has been paid approximately $20 million from the show over 20 years,” the document goes on to say, noting that Rebel has received around $1.1 million in payments since it filed its action last year. “That Rebel cannot content itself with continued receipt of millions of dollars for ‘services’ provided two decades ago does not mean it can ignore the express provisions of the Agency Agreement or seek to impose an implied covenant to limit or vary them.”
“Therefore …Defendants are entitled to summary adjudication of Rebel’s causes of action for breach of contract and implied covenant arising from Judge Sheindlin’s salary and cause of action for breach of contract arising from Hot Bench,” the memo seeking an October 27 hearing on the matter concludes.
From the beginning Rebel has claimed that it has not been paid its contractually obliged cut of the now-supposedly-in-the-red syndicated show and its Hot Bench spinoff since 2010. Judge Judy is in the red on on paper, says Rebel, because Judge Judy herself is paid such a huge sum annual – a fee that makes her the highest-paid host in TV.
Also claiming some limber accounting moves by defendants CBS Studios, CBS Corporation and producers and CBS TV Studios-owned Big Ticket Entertainment, Rebel also alleges that the Judge Judy show has grossed more than $1.7 billion since its 1996 launch. It also asserts that Sheindlin directly lobbied Moonves back in 2013 to have the spinoff Hot Bench put on the air – a spin-off Rebel says they deserve a piece of too.
All of which will make October 27 a very interesting day in court, whether Judge Judy is there or not.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.