UPDATE, 1:59 PM: “He believed in me when nobody else did,” said Empire co-creator Lee Daniels today of Damon Dash with a promise to defang a $5 million dollar lawsuit the Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder hit the Shadowboxer director with earlier this week.
“I’m happy to give him his money back even though the movie didn’t make money,” Daniels told TMZ on Friday of the $2 million “investment” he says Dash made in his movies when “nobody, not Disney, not Sony, not Tri-Star, not Paramount, not Warner Bros” would put cash out after the Oscar winning success of 2001’s Monster’s Ball.
While Dash has cited the $2 million as loan not an investment, the plaintiff seemed satisfied with the promise, as he made clear in an online response.
“He deserves his money and so I’m going to work out something for him,” Daniels added today of the on-going beef with Dash, who sued Daniels before over the $2 million and even settled with him once before. “Because I am now in the position now to get it to him,” the Star EP stated. So I’m going to get it to him, ‘cause I think that is the right thing to do.”
OK, but considering that this is the second lawsuit over the money and the promise of credits that as part of the settlement for the first lawsuit never happened, according to Dash’s June 26 suit, nothing really says I love you and I’m sorry like the actual cold hard cash, does it?
PREVIOUSLY, JUNE 26: Maybe Lee Daniels and Damon Dash will work out this latest beef with another confidential settlement to their mutual satisfaction but a new $5 million lawsuit by the Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder against the Empire co-creator reveals a lot of bad blood.
“Plaintiff is entitled to a judgment, directing Defendants Lee and Lee Daniels Entertainment to pay to Plaintiff monetary damages in amount to be determined at trial, but estimated at no less than Five Million Dollars ($5,000,000.00), and issue any Producer credits and ownership rights to Plaintiff to which he may have heretofore been entitled,” states the multi-claim complaint filed today in New York Supreme Court by Dash’s NYC-based lawyer Natraj Bhushan (read it here).
“In sum and substance, in March 2015, after lengthy settlement negotiations, Plaintiff and Defendants entered into a confidential, global settlement of all claims related to the Dash v. Daniels, et al. litigation, which was memorialized in writing and signed by all parties in April 2015,” said the jury trial seeking document from Bhushan, who represented the entrepreneur three years ago in a $25 million action over an estimated $2 million lent to Daniels way back in the day. “This writing, known among the parties as the Settlement Agreement and Mutual Release (the “Settlement Agreement”), resulted in the discontinuance with prejudice of the Dash v. Daniels, et al. litigation,” the 11-page filing adds of a deal that was supposed to see Dash given an co-executive producer credit and “five percent (5%) on all amounts that Mr. Daniels actually receives from his backend participation” on a Richard Pryor biopic the now Star EP was to direct.
The thing is, it all went nowhere as Daniels exited the once Oprah and Eddie Murphy starring big screen project in 2016, dove deeper into Empire and more small screen success and let the film on the comic genius languished. It went from nowhere to worse, Dash’s new fraud, breach of contract and more complaint claims over the next couple of years as his lawyers tried to work something out under the new circumstances. “In response, Defendants, through their counsel, offered non-comparable alternative consideration and thinly-veiled threats,” the paperwork put before the Empire State court on Tuesday alleges. “In essence, despite the express and unambiguous EP consideration clause, Defendants, in bad faith, to renegotiate the terms of this clause to something vastly more favorable to Defendants.”
All of which means Damon Dash is ticked off and has stopped playing around – as he is showing in court and online. As well as the legal action, Dash posted a video and proclamation on his Instagram on Tuesday, in which Deadline gets a shout out, of a confrontation he had with Daniels at a Diana Ross show at the Hollywood Bowl earlier this month:
Requests for comment from Daniels on the new suit were not responded too. However, I hear that the Oscar nominee plans to meet this latest legal action with a countersuit to shed light on what really went down behind the scenes.
Very Empire indeed.