One $300 million legal dust-up between AMC and former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and his representatives at CAA is heading to trial next year. But another lawsuit in the profit-participation dispute looks to be barreling towards a Hollywood labor minefield.
“The dirty secret in Hollywood is that talent agents often sell their clients down the river in exchange for bigger packaging fees for themselves,” AMC’s primary lawyer Orin Snyder wrote in a note to New York Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen on Monday, part of direct accusations that heavyweight lawyer Dale Kinsella has tried to shut down discussion or connection to the recent battle between the WGA and Association of Talent Agents over the lucrative packaging practice.
And then there is the very timely kicker.
“That is the subject of a pending lawsuit by the Writers Guild of America, of which Darabont is a member, against CAA and other talent agencies,” reads the short correspondence filed this morning (read it here). “Defendants have reason to believe that Plaintiffs’ claims may be based on Darabont’s misunderstanding of the rights his representatives seemed for him a misunderstanding created and/or advanced by CAA to hide their conflict of interest.”
“That is what happened here, and Kinsella wants to shut down this inquiry,” the Gibson Dunn attorney says, body-slamming the Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert partner with accusations of “outrageous” behavior and “misconduct” during a recent deposition involving The Shawshank Redemption director and two others.
Letting those scorching claims of underhanded moves by both CAA against their own co-plaintiff, and Kinsella hang there, the letter from Snyder additionally requests the New York Supreme Court justice set a conference hearing ASAP to “address improper and obstructive deposition conduct” by the plaintiffs’ lawyer in a trio of sit-downs.
Unsurprisingly, Kinsella wasted little time responding this morning.
“AMC’s transparent effort to mask their own outrageous and harassing deposition conduct by filing an at best misleading letter directly with the court is yet another publicity stunt,” he said Monday, promising a filing of his own shortly. “Suffice it to say that AMC’s lead counsel, Orin Snyder, will have more than enough explaining to do when this matter is fully argued before the court.”
Honestly, if you’ve been following Darabont and CAA’s original case from 2013 and the second $10 million one they put before the court in January 2018, such salvos between the lawyers seem like old hat at this point. What is a bit jaw dropping today is that AMC have now employed the tactic to push a wedge between plaintiffs Darabont and CAA over the hot-button topic of packaging, and nail the latter to the cross of displaying similar sticky contractual fingers AMC itself has been accused of having.
Fighting various TWD profits suits on various fronts, including one from creator Robert Kirkman and other executive producers, AMC now notes the WGA lawsuit of last month against the Big 4 agencies, and that the the deal between Darabont and CAA was cited as an example of the egregious self-interest aspect of packaging.
The quarrel over packaging has seen several thousand members of the WGA fired their agents at CAA, WME, ICM Partners and UTA since talks broke down between the ATA and the guild on April 12.
Unlike the near constant back and forth in the TWD cases, there has been no response by the Big 4 agencies to the WGA suit, yet.
No word when or if the conference that AMC want will happen – or what’s next in these cases.