EXCLUSIVE: Less than a day after a very specific and deeply detailed domestic violence lawsuit against Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil emerged, Warner Bros TV has started an investigation on the CW series.
While not saying anything publicly and taking a stance of innocent until proven guilty when it comes to the EP, the studio will be conducting an inquiry with cast and crew on the Atlanta filmed show and OWN’s Love Is, we’ve learned.
WBTV reps had no comment when contacted by Deadline, but the investigation formally started today.
Even though the claims against Akil have nothing to do with his role as showrunner on Black Lightning, this move by the studio is now pretty standard practice in such circumstances. The aim is to address safety and other concerns on the series by cast and crew and confidentially discover if they have information they would like to share.
Akil has not been suspended from the Berlanti Productions produced Black Lightning.
In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on November 20, actor Amber Dixon Brenner accuses Akil of repeated “non-consensual assault and battery.” As well as claiming breach of contract over a screenplay that Akil is alleged to have reappropriated, Brenner says that she and the married EP were lovers for over a decade up until 2017.
CAA-repped Akil, and his wife, writer-producer Mara Brock Akil, who is also at the uber-agency, inked an overall deal with WBTV in 2016.
Additionally, Brenner is also suing the Akils and Oprah’s OWN in federal court for copyright infringement. The allegation is that the EP took a 2016 screenplay of hers about an abusive relationship to use as the basis for what became the OWN series, Love Is, produced by Warner Horizon TV.
The CW and OWN have not responded to requests if they have opened an investigation into the abuse allegations or otherwise themselves. Defendants in the federal copyright infringement case have until December 28 to respond formally to Brenner’s filing.
This is not the first time, allegations of a sexual nature involving an EP of a WBTV superhero show have arisen. Earlier this year, WBTV fired the showrunner of another DC series for the CW, The Flash’s Andrew Kreisberg, over sexual harassment allegations.
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