The London-based production company Celador that created Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? tells me it may go after the Hollywood talent agency with a lawsuit. Celador has just won a $269 million court case against Disney/ABC, which aired the U.S. version of Millionaire. Celador successfully persuaded a California jury that Disney owed it 50% of the show’s profits.
In court, Disney argued that if Celador was unhappy with its deal, it should be suing the agent which brokered it, not them. Celador appears to have taken Disney’s advice to heart. Celador says, “We are considering our options regarding the William Morris Agency.”
Of course, ABC bought the rights to Millionaire 11 years ago. The statute of limitations on Celador suing WMA should have expired after 4 years. But WMA signed a “tolling agreement”, putting off any dispute between it and Celador until the Disney case was decided. That stopped the clock on any legal action, and that’s why Celador can pick up where things were left off.
Many of the WMA agents involved in the deal -– like Ben Silverman who was the lead William Morris rep for Millionaire – have since left the agency which in 2009 merged with Endeavor to create WME. Celador wouldn’t say if it plans to sue any individuals.