The case of who created White Collar has ended in a private settlement. “The litigation has been resolved and is in the process of being dismissed,” is all plaintiff Travis Romero’s lawyer Rhett Francisco would tell Deadline today. The case was scheduled for a March 2013 trial that could have seen the Executive Producer of the USA Network series plus some Fox TV Studio executives and CAA agents asked some potentially embarrassing questions about their conduct and practices. Romero sued Jeff Eastin, White Collar’s credited creator, last year. Fox TV Studios president David Madden and executive VP Matt Loze and CAA’s Rob Kenneally and Tom Young were also named as defendants. The studio and agency men allegedly encouraged Eastin to cut Romero out of the profits from the show and his co-creator credit. CAA represents Eastin. Fox TV produces the high class crime drama, now in its third season. Romero claimed that that he and his long time creative partner Eastin came up with the idea for White Collar in the latter’s backyard hot tub years back. Romero also claims the duo worked with Fox in pitching it to USA. While the scope of Romero’s initial case had recently been scaled back by Judge Rolf Treu, Eastin, Fox TV and CAA weren’t off the hook. In his May 15 ruling (Read it here), the judge granted Romero the ability to amend his suit to address issues of specificity in regards to his claims against Fox TV and CAA. Also the judge allowed Romero to go forward with his accounting violation claims as well as fraud and misrepresentation claims against Eastin. Obviously somebody decided that it was better to settle now with Romero than let this thing see the light of day in a trial.
Among the evidence that Romero cited in the case was a quote Eastin gave to the New York Times that the idea for White Collar “had really came from a friend of mine, Travis Romero.” Other evidence included emails from Madden to Eastin suggesting pushing Romero out of the spotlight with USA Network. Romero did serve as a writer and story editor on White Collar in its first season. It was recently announced that Romero would be directing the thriller Treachery, a feature film he wrote for BlancBiehn Productions.
CAA had no comment on the case. Neither Fox nor Eastin’s lawyer Max Sprecher responded to requests for comment.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.