With a June 11 start date set for the courtroom drama, Barris and his former writing partner Bryan Barber have reached a settlement in the one and half year-old dispute. “This entire case is settled,” said documents filed in LA Superior Court late last month by the Barber’s attorney Kenneth Ingber. “A request for dismissal will be filed within 45 days after the settlement,” the short notice of May 23 added (read it here).
No details of the confidential settlement were disclosed in the filing but Deadline has learned that all sides were indeed eager to see the matter concluded. This occurred a week after the Black-ish Season 4 finale aired and as Barris’ contract talks with ABC Studios continue.
First filed by Idlewild director Barber back in September 2016, the $1 million dollar seeking breach of contract and fraud complaint alleged that he was denied his rightful role in the creation of the now four seasons running Black-ish, which was renewed for fifth season last month.
The jury seeking filing claimed “that at some point between the end of 2006 and September 2014, Defendant Barris – using Plaintiff’s idea for the Original Untitled Script – wrote, developed and shopped the pilot episode for Black-ish without Plaintiff’s knowledge or authorization.”
The well-known music video helmer said that the script he and Barris had co-wrote for VH-1 back over a decade ago based on the latter’s life was tweaked to become the September 24, 2014 debuting series. “Both works conclude with the protagonist overcoming challenges with race relations, adapting to his professional environment, and coming to terms with his ‘blackish-ness,’” Barber’s complaint stated, noting a 2006 agreement the duo reportedly had on the material.
Part of that 2006 deal was that Barris and Brader would produce any project based on their script together. With that clearly not happening, Brader went after cash and credit with the move against Barris, Black-ish EP Larry Wilmore’s Wilmore Films, Principato-Young Entertainment and Cinema Gypsy Productions.
Represented by lawyers at Freedman + Taitleman, LLP, Barris hit back against the suit, noting that the “Rainbow” character of ‘black-ish’ was the name of his real-life spouse and other elements that came from his own background.
That tactic failed to convince LASC Judge Samantha Jessner who in early April rejected a motion to dismiss from Barris and fellow defendants “The court finds the similarities between the Black-ish pilot and the ‘Untitled Original Script’ sufficient to reach a jury,” she said. With a May 7 trial date then on the books, that ruling soon brought both sides to the bargaining table – and hence the settlement now before the courts.
With the Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross led Black-ish coming back next season, America’s Next Top Model co-creator and Girls Trip writer Barris also has another season of breakout spinoff Grown-ish set for Freeform too. As well, with a divorce comedy feature set at Fox, Barris and Born Again Virgin creator Ranada Shepard received a series order for Besties from Freeform at the upfronts last month.