It’s less than a month before The Walking Dead wraps up its eighth season. But more than four years into the legal apocalypse of CAA and Frank Darabont’s all-out-war lawsuit of nearly $300 million against AMC over profits from the blockbuster series, “frivolous” is the term the former are now repeatedly using to lambast the latter.
“AMC has filed a blatantly frivolous motion that is, as this Court predicted, ‘a distraction’ from the Court’s ruling on the pending motions for summary judgment,” say lawyers for the uber-agency and The Shawshank Redemption director in opposition filing today to the cabler’s submission of earlier this month (read it here). Taking things in a direction familiar to those who have been following the case since it was first filed in late 2013, Hollywood heavyweight attorney Dale Kinsella on Thursday used “frivolous” twice in an accompanying statement that also rips the cabler for “a transparent attempt to delay the Court’s ruling” in summary judgment motions argued last year.
Pivoting off an additional $10 million suit that CAA and Darabont hit them with back in January, as Deadline exclusively reported, AMC now are seeking over two more months of briefings on that long-since-submitted summary judgment paperwork. It’s a tactic that CAA and former TWD showrunner Darabont, who was canned by AMC in 2011 after bringing the show based on Robert Kirkman’s comics to life, believe is — well, a total sideshow and waste of everyone’s time from the inevitable.
“AMC now attempts further to delay the Court’s decision on the summary judgment motions by seeking to ‘supplement’ the record and reargue the summary judgment motions,” declares CAA and Darabont’s legal Praetorian Guard of NYC’s Blank Rome LLP and Santa Monica’s Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP. “AMC has fully set forth its arguments for supplementation in this Motion, making further briefing unnecessary. Yet, AMC inexplicably proposes a further briefing schedule lasting 74 days.”
As the wind blows this way and that in this case, AMC’s crew aren’t taking their flag down any time soon.
“Plaintiffs upended this litigation when they decided to file a new complaint containing new factual allegations and legal theories in an attempt to get a second bite at the apple,” the cabler’s new-ish lead lawyer Orin Snyder told Deadline today in response. “For them to now scream ‘delay’ is hypocritical,” the litigator added. “CAA is the most powerful and profitable talent agency in the history of entertainment. They knew exactly what they were doing when they filed this second lawsuit and tried, once again, to bend the rules in their favor. They will now have to live with the consequences of that decision.”
Having first been filed back in December 2013, the initial action has fattened up to Darabont and his agency chasing a $280 million outcome, and AMC’s defense pretty openly ducking and weaving its way around the allegations of financial misconduct. With that kind of cash at stake, and a probe inside the way both big agencies and big outlets play with the fine print, both sides have let loose with invectives and threats over the years in the jury trial-bound matter.
The lead-up to a showdown September summary-judgment hearing in front of the constantly exasperated and now soon-to-be-retiring Justice Eileen Bransten of the New York Supreme Court saw hundreds of pages of internal documents, shaming emails and more dropped into the public record like a ship’s anchor, as all parties sought an advantage. While Bransten still hasn’t made a decision on the submitted summary judgments, these past few months, AMC’s ship has taken on more water and CAA and Darbont’s cannons gained more velocity as Kirkman, fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd, plus Glen Mazzara — who was pink-slipped suddenly as TWD showrunner in 2012 — and others last summer also went after the cabler in court for profits that, they say, they too have been shafted.
Under those conditions and with all the implications of having people who aren’t exactly best buddies now singing a similar tune, AMC late last year moved aside Donald Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz from running point for them and brought in Gibson Dunn’s sharp-toothed trial lawyer Snyder to take the wheel in a clear course correct.
CAA and Darabont, as implied in reaction when AMC first pushed for the additional briefing, claim that the move hasn’t really moved anyone anywhere, as skirmishes over what constitutes a “transaction between AMC affiliates” and what doesn’t, and license fee definitions and scope erupt.
“Although AMC has brought in new additional counsel, its tactics remain the same — do anything and everything to delay this nearly 4 1/2-year-old case from moving forward,” the lawyers for the Plaintiffs asserted this week. “AMC has not been candid with the Court, and its Motion misstates the facts. Not only should the Motion be denied, but sanctions should be imposed.”
Now, it is far from the first time that sanctions or demands for attorney’s fees have been bandied about in this case. However, with the PowerPoint presentation that CAA and Darabont’s lawyers used at last fall’s summary judgment hearing charmingly included as one of many exhibits to this latest filing, the swords are seeming a little sharper than before, as all sides await to see what Justice Bransten will do and what she will actually decide, if anything, at this juncture.
In the meantime, with the word “frivolous” front and center, and as another shot across the bow, Blank Rome’s Jerry Bernstein sent Snyder a letter on March 20 (read it here) demanding that AMC “withdraw” its latest “completely without merit” motion by 5 PM ET yesterday or they would go through with the Cross-Motion filed early in the AM today and seek those sanctions.
You don’t have to be such a big TWD fan to know that the walkers have never been referred to as “zombies” on the series or to guess what didn’t and did happen next in this legal war.