“OWN has decided not to move forward with the second season of Love Is _ ,” the Oprah Winfrey founded outlet said Wednesday, almost five months after initially announcing this summer that the Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil produced series was renewed. “The TV memoir was inspired by the real-life love story of married producers Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil,” OWN added in a telling insight into the decision to pull the Love plug.
The show may be over, but cast and producers were all paid for the second season under contractual obligations, I’ve learned.
The cancellation follows the completion of an inquiry by producer WBTV on both Love Is _ and the CW series Black Lightning. Salim Akil is the showrunner on the latter and both Akils serve as executive producers on both shows. While there have been no allegations of misconduct by Salim Akil on either show and none were found as a result of the inquiries, the studio made the move on November 30 after the abuse case from actor Amber Dixon Brenner in Los Angeles Superior Court became public knowledge.
While Black Lightning remains in production with Akil as showrunner, the feeling at OWN is that the premise of Love Is_ has been fundamentally altered amidst the claims in federal and state court against Salim Akil, we’ve heard. “The narrative has changed,” noted one source about the dramedy that centers on a couple finding true love, family and success together in Hollywood.
That premise was shattered as two lawsuits were filed in recent weeks against Akil by Wall Street Never Sleeps alum Brenner. As well as detailing frequent and repeated instances of physical abuse over their decade long illicit affair, the suit also accuse the CAA-repped EP of using Brenner’s 2015 Luv & Perversity in the East Village screenplay as the basis of Love Is_
Brenner pulled the plug herself on the October 22-filed federal case late last week in a voluntary dismissal without prejudice. “Whereas Plaintiff has a pending State Court action against defendant Salim Akil, the disposition of which many have a bearing on this action, and it is her intent to have that State action proceed,” said the December 14 dismissal notice (read it here). As well as the Akils, OWN itself was named as a defendant in that now seemingly dead copyright infringement matter, though Brenner and her Costa Besser and Childress LLP attorneys did give themselves the ability to return to the suit if they wanted to.
The jury-seeking November 20-filed L.A. Superior Court case finds Brenner accusing Salim Akil of numerous acts of “non-consensual assault and battery” and breach of contract over the Luv script. Though his lawyer Stephen D. Barnes said on December 2 that the allegations against Akil as “totally untrue,” there has been no formal response on the court docket as of today in the case.