(UPDATED 5:51 PM with Sony TV statement) EXCLUSIVE: A little over a month after Days of Our Lives was renewed for a record 55th season by NBC, the producers behind the long running and Emmy winning daytime soap today have squared up against Sony Pictures Television in a distribution legal dust-up that could see tens of millions of dollars in damages and the termination of a half a century old deal.
In a breach of contract and fraud complaint filed this morning, Corday Productions accuse Sony as well as its Columbia Pictures and Screen Gems divisions of deliberating hanging the 1965 premiering DOOL out to dry distribution-wise in international markets to the advantage of their 100% owned The Young and the Restless.
Represented by Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger’s Pierce O’Donnell, Dan Stone and Joshua Geller, the Corday action also alleges that Sony “treachery” has led to the majority of DOOL’s back seasons left “completely unexploited for over five years” in an attempt to starve off the soap and pump up the CBS broadcasted Y&R.
“While the domestic ratings for Days of Our Lives have remained largely constant, Sony’s distribution receipts have decreased by over 50%,” the 33-page complaint asserts as it seeks of damages of over $20 million and significantly taking back control of the show. “This dramatic decline is directly attributable to a decision at the highest levels of Sony management to eliminate any competition to its own wholly-owned Series The Young and The Restless also distributed by Sony,” the suit from the company founded by DOOL creators Ted Corday and Betty Corday states.
“In the annals of Hollywood television, it is difficult to identify a distributor more guilty of blatant conflict of interest, deceit, perfidy, and abuse of market power,” the swashbucklingly phrased filing declares of what it also calls the “audacious” behavior of Sony TV. “The only effective remedies are massive compensatory and punitive damages and immediate termination Sony’s exclusive, perpetual distribution agreement.”
“Among its myriad illegal acts, the worst financially for Corday is Sony’s failure to market the Series in foreign markets in good faith and compliance with laws prohibiting anticompetitive conduct,” the paperwork proclaims, noting that DOOL isn’t now licensed in “key foreign territories, including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Zambia, and South Africa.”
The filing slathers it up more by claiming that Sony is tightening its hold of late by “imposing solely on Corday the burden of absorbing the multi-million dollar annual operating deficits due to an inadequate NBC license fee and mandating an inefficient, costly production schedule.”
“My client will not sit idly by while Sony Pictures Television seeks to destroy its legendary Days of Our Lives,” O’Donnell told Deadline today after the complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Our complaint exposes Sony’s concerted campaign to abandon selling the 54-year-old celebrated television series in foreign markets while it promotes its own daytime drama The Young and The Restless,” the attorney adds. “We can’t wait to present this damning evidence to a Los Angeles jury. Everyone loves a good David versus Goliath story.”
A Sony Pictures TV spokesperson said today that “the claim is meritless.”
Decades deep into its run, Days of Our Lives does deliver, and, in fact, has seen a recent bit of bounce out of old Salem. Running from September 2017 to September 2018, the series’ 53rd season ) bopped up 4% increase in total viewers to 2.55 million an episode in live + 7 ratings results over the year before.
DOOL has won 57 Emmy Awards over the years, including most recently 2015 and 2018’s Outstanding Daytime Drama. Staying with the numbers, the more than 13,5000 episode on-going series has had 323 nominations, as well as numerous People’s Choice Awards, GLAAD Media Awards and Prism Awards.