CBS Studios Slams “Fatally Flawed” Lawsuit Over ‘MacGyver’: “Remakes Are Not Spinoffs”


More than two years after CBS Studios was sued over the current MacGyver series, the company has hit back, claiming that the case “suffers from fatal, incurable deficiencies.”

Back in December 2018, Hanzer Holdings and Arlita Inc. filed a lawsuit claiming that CBS’ update of the drama series entitled them to payments based on a deal dating from the original series. Both plaintiffs are described as “successors in interest” to Major Talent Agency, the packaging agent for the original 1985-92 MacGyver series that was exec produced by Henry Winkler and John Rich.

According to the original suit, MTA was a third-party beneficiary of the 1984 deal with CBS Studios’ predecessor in interest, Paramount Television, that spawned the series. That pact included a “package commission” agreement between MTA and Paramount that the suit says covered “each series produced under the 1984 Agreement.”

When CBS Studios announced in 2016 that it had greenlighted a a pilot for a new MacGyver, this time starring Lucas Till as the Master of Available Resources, the plaintiffs noted that the project was “referred to by CBS Studios and others variously as a ‘reboot,’ ‘remake’ and/or ‘spinoff’, but it is, in fact, a ‘spinoff series’ as contemplated by the 1984 Agreement.”

Now CBS Studios begs to differ.

In its detailed, 26-page Opposition to Motion for Summary Adjudication filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), the company claims that “Plaintiffs’ case suffers from fatal, incurable deficiencies.”

“Most fundamentally,” the CBS Studios response says, “their contract claims fail because neither CBS Studios nor its predecessor in interest, Paramount, has ever had any contractual relationship with either plaintiff. Paramount/CBS never had any contractual relationship with Hanzer Holdings, and never even heard of plaintiff Arlita, Inc. until it filed this lawsuit. Second, even assuming arguendo that such a contractual relationship existed (it never did), they premise their entire case on an allegation that the 2016 MacGyver remake is somehow a ‘spinoff’ under a written contract which does not even apply to remakes. Odder still, Plaintiffs were unable to state in deposition which version of the agreement they claim applies here and, to this very minute, they do not know. Finally, even assuming a contractual relationship which would apply to the Remake, Plaintiffs admittedly were and are unable to perform, making it impossible for them to meet an essential element of their claim performance. Plaintiffs have resisted discovery at every turn for a very simple reason – their allegations are belied by the evidence.”

The filing adds: “Having engaged in a highly misleading corporate shell game, and having collected agency commissions from Paramount on MacGyver to which they were never entitled, Plaintiffs are stopped from asserting that they are the successors-in-interest to the real MTA.”

CBS Studios is represented in the case by attorneys Lee Brenner, Sarah Cronin and Matt M. Gurvitz of Venable LLP in Los Angeles. Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis is assigned to the case. A trial date is set for June 7.

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