EXCLUSIVE: One day after The Walking Dead debuted its eighth season and everyone was making nice at a live screening at L.A.’s Greek Theatre, several executive producers and AMC have come to a partial agreement today in the former’s potentially multimillion-dollar profits lawsuit.
With a Monday filing in New York Supreme Court reading that the “interests of judicial economy will be served by adjudicating the claims asserted in this Action and in the CA Action in one forum,” the August 15 actions by TWD EPs Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert along with Charles Eglee with be consolidated with similar August 14 filings here in California, and the whole matter moved out West. That’s where the other plaintiffs in the matter have filed too, and Eglee will now be added if New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten approves the jointly requested order (read it here).
With the filings by the trio plus TWD comics creator and series EP Robert Kirkman and ex-showrunner Glenn Mazzara earlier this summer in Los Angeles Superior Court, the next step for what could end being one of the biggest profit-participation cases ever is a status conference. No date has been scheduled, but don’t hold your breath on that one if you know what I mean?
Similar to the now more than $280 million suit ex-TWD EP/showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA first brought against AMC at the end of 2013, this more recent matter alleges basically that the cabler scammed the EPs out what they were rightly due with some slight-of-hand money moves.
“The defendant AMC Entities exploited their vertically integrated corporate structure to combine both the production and the exhibition of TWD, which allowed AMC to keep the lion’s share of the series’ enormous profits/or itself and not share it with the Plaintiffs, as required by their contracts,” the August 14 breach of contract complaint by the five EPs asserted.
The day after that filing, Hurd, Alpert and Eglee followed through with their promise to also file on the East Coast. The trio said at the time they would halt the New York Supreme Court action if AMC rendered moot provisions in their respective agreements that designate an Empire State jurisdiction for any such dispute and let the whole thing be handled in California.
On August 15, AMC called the TWD EPs suit(s) “baseless and predictably opportunistic.”
Amidst all that friendlessness, two new lawyers have come on board for AMC, with the sharp-elbowed corporate-favored Orin Snyder and Scott Edelman of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. The TWD EPs continue to be represented by Ronald Nessim and a team from LA’s Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow, P.C., plus Scott M. Himes of NYC’s Kishner & Miller.
The future of TWD, which will have a crossover with spinoff Fear The Walking Dead some time next year, still looks bright on AMC, and the EPs have publicly pledged to be good “partners” with the outlet. However, Kirkman inked an overall deal with Amazon on August 11 and Hurd already has several irons in several other fires, including the recently launched Lore on the Jeff Bezos-run streaming service.
As for the Darabont suit, there was a quick upping of the disputed license fee by AMC and millions suddenly paid out to all profit participants earlier this year and a document dump on both sides in mid-July. On September 15, there was a summary judgment hearing in New York with both sides arguing their complex cases in front of a sometimes clearly annoyed Justice Bransten – recognize that name?
No confirmation on when Bransten will make her decision public, but it could be as late as the end of the year. Then, no matter who gets the advantage, the other side will appeal and the case will drag on months more before ever getting to trial — more than likely in front of another judge, as Bransten is retiring.
And you thought the zombie apocalypse could be a nightmare.