The nuclear cloud that has enveloped the Weinstein Company after the explosive revelations of decades of alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein just got thicker by more than $2 million in a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit.
“TWC had lured Plaintiffs into a trap,” producers Scott Lambert and Alexandra Milchan say of the company’s role in the now-shuttered David O. Russell series that was set to be played by Amazon Studios on its streaming service. “Unknown to Plaintiffs, TWC’s former co-chairman, Harvey Weinstein, had engaged in multiple acts of sexual misconduct. This misconduct — which TWC knew very well, but concealed from Plaintiffs — was effectively a ticking time bomb.”
A bomb that blew up after the October 5 New York Times exposé on Weinstein’s behavior and about 80 women that have come forward since. Having put in nearly all the financing, Amazon pulled the plug on October 13 when the Jeff Bezos-led company decided that it “no longer plans on moving forward” with the 20-episode, two-season order for the series starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore and directed by Russell. While then still going ahead with The Romanoffs series Matthew Weiner, who now also is accused of sexual harassment, Amazon’s action led the two actors and The Fighter director asserting that “out of respect for all those affected we have decided together that it is best to not move forward with this show.”
And, with agreed-upon backend profits, credits, relocation costs, $50,00o-an-episode fee each and a $250,00o development fee about to disappear, that’s where industry vets Lambert and Milchan’s professional world crashed down in what was supposed to be a “pay or play” deal with TWC.
“In October 2017, the time bomb exploded with the revelation of Weinstein’s sordid history of sex abuse,” the EMJAG Production execs add in their complaint (read it here). “The Project was one of its casualties, as Amazon, seeking to distance itself from Weinstein, withdrew from the Project. TWC then withheld the compensation that it had promised to pay to Plaintiffs.”
In sum, after “several years” developing what was supposed to be a $160 million-budgeted two-season series, Lambert and Milchan have been left with nothing for getting caught in a toxic situation they had nothing to do with.
“Plaintiffs negotiated with TWC under the belief that they were dealing with a reputable company,” notes the fairly restrained suit of their fraud claim. “During the time of the negotiations and at the time that they entered into the Contract, they had no knowledge of Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct,” it adds of the two producers who dealt extensively with TWC exec David Glasser and even moved to NYC for the series. “Had they known of his sordid history, they would not have entered into the Contract, as it would have exposed TWC’s appearance of reputability to be a sham.”
An alleged sham situation that the producers represented by Freedman+Taitelman LLP now want the unstable TWC to pay up for throwing them under Harvey’s bus, so to speak.
The four-claim complaint for “damages well in excess of $2,000,000,” was filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Facing several lawsuits arising from the vile situation, a potential battle with Michael Moore and making it past the holiday, TWC did not respond to request for comment on the civil lawsuit. It will have to reply in court, eventually.