The first CEO of Gaumont International Television is suing the company — now called Gaumont Television USA — claiming that it deprived her of “millions of dollars in bargained-for contingent compensation” from TV series she developed.
Katie O’Connell Marsh already was a veteran television executive when was tapped as the first chief executive — actually the first employee — of Los Angeles-based Gaumont International TV upon its launch in 2010. In her lawsuit filed late last month in L.A. Superior Court (read it here), the exec says she took less guaranteed compensation from the then-startup “in exchange for greater incentive and contingent compensation, including a 2.5% share of the gross receipts derived from each television series produced by GIT and distributed in the U.S. while she was employed by GIT, minus a few agreed upon deductions.”
The parties referred to the sharing of profits as Modified Adjusted Gross Receipts, or MAGR.
O’Connell Marsh says she signed a second three-year deal to remain at GIT’s chief executive in 2013 but didn’t receive a salary bump. Instead, the suit says, she “secured various enhancements to her incentive and contingent compensation, including an increased share of MAGR from 2.5% to 3%.”
In 2015, about a year before her re-upped deal was set to expire, “GIT eliminated Ms. O’Connell Marsh’s position in connection with a corporate reorganization in which … GIT was renamed Gaumont Television USA, LLC.” During her tenure, she had developed such series as NBC’s Hannibal and Netflix’s Narcos, Hemlock Grove and F Is for Family, and the suit notes that “Gaumont has not produced any new television series in the two years since Ms. O’Connell Marsh’s position was eliminated.”
“Thus,” the suit adds, “Ms. O’Connell Marsh not only put GIT on the map in the television industry, but the series she developed as GIT’s first employee remain the cornerstone of Gaumont’s television operations to this day. Unfortunately, while Ms. O’Connell Marsh did precisely what she promised to do-develop successful television programming while building GIT from the ground up Gaumont failed to bold up its end of the deal and has, instead, resorted to shifty calculations that bear no resemblance to the terms of the MAGR provision in her Separation Agreement to deprive O’Connell Marsh of millions of dollars in bargained-for contingent compensation. In fact, while on information and belief Gaumont has received substantial gross receipts from the projects Ms. O’Connell Marsh’s developed, Ms. O’Connell Marsh has yet to receive a single MAGR payment in connection with any of the series she brought to the screen.
Gaumont reps did not immediate respond to Deadline’s request for comment. We will update the post when we hear back.
The suit, which unspecified damages “estimated at many millions of dollars” and demands a jury trial, alleges breach of contract and of good faith and fair dealing. Attorneys John Berlinski and Christian Wrede of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP in Los Angeles are representing O’Connell Marsh — who now is CEO of Platform One Media after a stint as Head of Global Live-Action Television at DreamWorks Animation — in the action.
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