(UPDATED with statement from Sony) A year after being suddenly cut loose from The Blacklist over alleged harassment of a crew member, the NBC series’ long-time director and executive producer Michael Watkins is aiming to give Sony TV, producers Woodbridge Productions and others a legal black eye.
The move comes in a breach of implied contract and failure to conduct investigation complaint filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court by the TV vet. In the paperwork, attorneys for Watkins alleges he was fired and suffered “blackballing” as a result of “power-hungry” co-EP Laura Benson, also named as a defendant.
“In furtherance of the scheme, moreover, Defendants launched a smear campaign to justify Watkins’s unlawful termination under the guise of remedying physical harassment,” the jury trial demanding complaint says. “Blinded by their determination to oust Watkins, Defendants disregarded the truth and the substantial harm that would accrue to Watkins as a result of their illegal and brazen scheme. Watkins seeks damages, and declaratory and injunctive relief,” the filing adds of his firing in February 2018 for allegedly “laying hands” on a crew member, something he claims did not happen.
“This claim has no merit,” a spokesperson for Sony Pictures TV told Deadline. “We are committed to providing a safe working environment for the cast and crew on all of our productions.”
Watkins signed a two-year overall deal with Sony TV back in 2015. The pact included a development component, on which Watkins was teaming with his producing partner Brian Gersh, former head of WME’s Motion Picture Talent Department.
In addition to The Blacklist, Watkins served as producer on Prison Break, Las Vegas, Smallville, The X-Files and NYPD Blue, among others, and directed the pilots for Las Vegas and The Rockford Files reboot for NBC.
Watkins is represented by attorneys Steven D. Kramar of Kramar Madnick in Encino, Calif. and William A. Brewer in NYC.