The correspondence pugilism between CAA and AMC over the agency’s lawsuit with former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont against the entertainment company over unpaid fees, self-dealing, gross receipts and other claims just put its brass knuckles on again. “AMC’s document requests clearly exceed the bounds of legitimate discovery, as they go far beyond any issues relevant to the instant litigation. Worse, they are manifestly so burdensome and overbroad that compliance would be all but impossible,” said the agency’s lawyer Jerry Bernstein in letter sent this week to Justice Eileen Bransten of the Supreme Court of New York. The correspondence seeking a conference to find resolution in the matter is in response to a letter AMC sent two weeks ago to Her Honor seeking a wide swath of confidential documents from the agency for the case.
“Such a wholesale disclosure of the confidential information of potentially thousands of clients would be devastating to CAA’s reputation and business, would greatly damage CAA’s relationship with its clients, and would have a chilling effect on its competitive position in the marketplace,” the dense July 1 letter says (read it here). “Although prominent, CAA is certainly not the only talent agency in the entertainment industry. CAA’s clients would be outraged at the disclosure of their private information in litigation they are not parties to,” the Blank Rome attorney added. “Moreover, they would not be satisfied that even a ‘highly confidential’ designation of their documents would protect their privacy and their business interests.”
Related: AMC Slams “Ill-Conceived” ‘Walking Dead’ Lawsuit From Frank Darabont & CAA
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EXCLUSIVE: I told you a few weeks ago that Frank Darabont was on the short list to direct Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman 2. Now its a really short list: I’m hearing he’s in negotiations to direct the sequel to the original, which Rupert Sanders helmed and which grossed close to $400 million worldwide on a $170M budget.
The studio is considering the movie a spinoff, not a sequel, and sparked to Darabont’s pitch, which focused almost exclusively on Chris Hemsworth‘s Huntsman character. It remains to be seen whether Kristen Stewart will reprise her role as Snow White.
Darabont, who helmed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, also hatched The Walking Dead and helped forge it into cable TV’s top-rated drama before getting fired. He hasn’t helmed a feature since 2007′s The Mist.
AMC wants CAA to open up its files on a wide range of clients in the latest salvo in the legal battle between the entertainment company and former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and the agency over unpaid fees, self-dealing, gross receipts and other claims. Actually on this occasion Darabont is not really a player as it is his co-plaintiff that AMC is taking a hefty swipe at in a letter sent to this week to NY Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten (read it here). “Plaintiffs cannot have it both ways – to allege that Defendants breached industry custom and practice,but then refuse to produce the documents in their possession that speak directly to and disprove these allegations,” says the June 16 correspondence that asks the judge to order CAA to deliver the docs. AMC claims that CAA are ” insisting that the documents are confidential and the burdens associated with producing them are too high.”
This latest letter to the judge follows a June 5 ruling by the Judge to allow Darabont and CAA’s lawyers to look at licensing agreements AMC had with Sony over Breaking Bad and with Lionsgate over Mad Men, something the plaintiffs had desired and the broadcaster had resisted. Also, among other things, the judge ordered AMC to hand over all pertinent documents related to The Walking Dead’s finances to determine what came in and based on that what Darabont may be owed. With that in mind, this most recent letter follows the dug-in approach that both sides have adopted in the case first filed by Darabont and CAA in a December 17 complaint. The plaintiffs allege that they were tricked out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster series and that AMC played a “self-dealing” artificially low license-fee shell game with the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels. AMC says that’s not true. Earlier
in the case, when it was resisting handing over documents itself, AMC revealed that Darabont had been paid out nearly $3 million for his work on the first two seasons of WD before the producer was kicked off the show in late July 2011.In the letter of this week they say that both sides referred to additional compensation for Darabont as “Modified Adjusted Gross Receipts” in their agreements and documents – which is why they want these requested documents for their discovery process.
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EXCLUSIVE: While all eyes have been on who’ll ultimately direct Ant-Man, Universal is getting down to finding a helmer for Snow White And The Huntsman 2. I’m hearing the shortlist consists of Frank Darabont, Gavin O’Connor and Andy Muschietti. Rupert Sanders helmed the first film, which grossed close to $400 million worldwide, a result that almost guarantees a second installment even if the first cost $170 million or so. This is an intriguing group of filmmakers. Darabont, after helming The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, hatched The Walking Dead and helped forge it into cable TV’s top-rated drama before getting fired. He hasn’t helmed a feature since 2007′s The Mist. Then there is O’Connor, who directed the cult favorite film Warrior as well as Miracle and stepped in and saved the Natalie Portman starrer Jane Got A Gun. Then there is Muschietti, the Mama helmer who was tapped by Universal to reboot its The Mummy franchise, before he fell out of that project. Universal and Roth Films are trying to have the Huntsman movie for 2016 — Chris Hemsworth had to say no to the Legendary sci-fi film Brilliance because he’s slotted to reteam with Kristen Stewart and do this sequel after The Avengers 2 — so a decision should be made soon. Stay tuned. Read More »
It’s not quite the blood and gore of the zombie apocalypse, but today the legal battle between AMC and original The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA got more a lot more biting. “Doubling down on their ill-conceived theory of the case, Plaintiffs now seek to use discovery to conduct a fishing expedition through the files of Defendants, a television network, two television studios, and a parent company, to obtain access to highly sensitive proprietary and confidential information that bears no relevance to Plaintiffs’ claims, including highly confidential and proprietary information relating to television shows other than the one at issue, The Walking Dead,” said AMC today in a scathing letter (read it here) to a NY Supreme Court judge. The letter is the latest salvo in the on-going case first filed by Darabont and CAA in a December 17 complaint. The plaintiffs allege that they were scammed out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster series and that AMC played a “self-dealing” artificially low license-fee shell game with the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels. AMC, of course, says that’s not the case.
Related: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5: First-Look Photo
Of course, all that could become irrelevant or at least secondary very soon. “Contracts are not screenplays,” said AMC’s attorney Marc E. Kasowitz with some rhetorical flourish in this most recent letter. “The law does not permit them to be unilaterally rewritten simply because one party dislikes the ending. Yet, that is precisely what Plaintiffs seek in this action.” Once again rejecting Darabont and CAA’s contentions of self-dealing and low license fees in their original complaint last year, the cable station also revealed to no great surprise that they plan to file a motion for summary judgment for liability soon. AMC also let slip that they paid Darabont “close to $3 million” for his work on WD Seasons 1 & 2 before canning him from the show he developed back in late July 2011.
Related: AMC Greenlights Three Unscripted Series, Including Chris Hardwick’s ‘Celebrity Bowling’
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More than two months since original The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA sued AMC, over unpaid fees and other claims, the cable station has finally replied. In a dry point-by-point 10-page retort filed today in the Supreme Court of New York, AMC denied all of the plaintiffs’ claims and asked for the case to be dismissed. “Defendants deny that Plaintiffs are entitled to any relief, whether monetary, compensatory, declarative, equitable, costs, and/or fees relating to this matter, or in any other form sought by Plaintiffs,” said the filing (read it here). “We look forward to demonstrating through the legal process that this is a baseless lawsuit built on claims that have no merit,” an AMC spokesperson told me today. The dense December 17 complaint that Darabont and CAA filed against AMC Network Entertainment and others alleged that the former WD EP and his agency were cheated out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster zombie apocalypse series.
AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ Slays NBC’s Olympics In Key Demo Again
TNT’s Mob City Not Getting Second Season
Darabont and CAA’s 24-page plus exhibits filing late last year also claimed that AMC enacted a limbo-low license-fee shell game to the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels to pad its own pockets. It also said that cabler snagged some tax money from the state of Georgia and ran the in-house … Read More »
TNT will not be going forward with a second installment of Frank Darabont’s period drama Mob City after a low-rated, six-episode run this fall as a limited series. “Mob City was created as a three-week television event and we are incredibly proud of the six hours we presented of this remarkable drama,” a TNT spokesperson said. “Although the ratings of the limited series haven’t warranted more hours we are eager to work with Frank Darabont again and were delighted to bring the vibrant world of Mob City to life.” Despite a big promotional push, Darabont’s Mob City didn’t get much traction from the get-go. The noir series opened with a soft 2.3 million total viewers and 801, 000 adults 18-49. That was at the higher end between TNT’s two previous debuts Monday Mornings and King And Maxwell - both of whom have since been cancelled. Mob City marks TNT’s third consecutive new drama series to be cancelled after one season.
Mob City was out of TNT’s wheelhouse of character-based procedurals, like Rizzoli & Isles, and action-adventure popcorn Sunday fare, like Falling Skies. “Every once and then, we take a big swing, and I’m so happy we did Mob City,” TNT’s programming chief Michael Wright told me last month, before a final decision on Mob City had been made. “Ratings have been mediocre but the show is great, it was beautifully made, got good reviews and was an attention … Read More »
2ND UPDATE 7:40 PM: The most colorful reaction to today’s lawsuit once again came from Sons Of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, who previously blasted AMC over the dismissal of Glen Mazzara, Frank Darabont‘s successor on The Walking Dead. Sutter wrote on Twitter, “go frank. fuck those ghoulish, dead-eyed scumbags in their green-gobbed asses. i ain’t talking about the zombies.”
PREVIOUS 11:25 AM: AMC‘s The Walking Dead is the biggest show on television but its developer Frank Darabont has yet to receive any money as a profit participant. Today, Darabont and his agency CAA filed a lawsuit (read it here) against AMC, accusing the network in “self dealing” by setting an unrealistically low license fee for the zombie series it also produces and employing questionable accounting practices thus depriving profit participants of compensation. The complaint also alleges Darabont was wrongfully terminated from the show, that he should continue to receive an executive producer credit and is entitled to proceeds from The Walking Dead offshoots Talking Dead and the upcoming spinoff from Robert Kirkman, on whose graphic novel The Walking Dead was based. UPDATE: AMC declined comment on the litigation. Darabont and CAA are asking for unspecified “monetary damages” to be determined by a jury trial.
Judging by the history of vertical integration lawsuits, the odds are small that the dispute would go to trial. There have been a slew of “self dealing” complaints since the 1995 relaxation of TV’s financial interest-syndication rules — all of them eventually settled. The list includes Home Improvement producers’ suit against Disney, NYPD Blue exec producer Steven Bochco’s, X-Files star David Duchovny’s and M*A*S*H star Alan Alda’s complaints against 20th Century Fox TV, and more recently Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan’s case against NBC and Smallville creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough’s against Warner Bros TV. They all accused a studio of not negotiating a fair (or “arms’ length”) deal when selling a series to a corporate sibling, or “self-dealing,” which had hurt profit participants’ financial returns. The difference is that Darabont was also fired from the show early into its run, a move Darabont and CAA are using in their case against AMC. The lawsuit, filed today with the New York Supreme Court, comes after sources say efforts by Darabont and CAA to resolve their issues were “fundamentally rebuffed” by AMC. The 73-page complaint was accompanied by a summons from the plaintiffs for AMC to reply by mid-January or risk default judgment.
Related: ‘Walking Dead’ Winter Finale Draws 12.1M Viewers
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A heavy-hitter panel of Hollywood pros is going to pick a trailer for Christopher Golden’s upcoming horror novel, Snowblind. St. Martin’s Press, along with social marketers Talenthouse, has brought Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer, producers Frank Darabont and Don Murphy, Grudge scribe Stephen Susco and Golden himself on board to choose the winner from submissions by amateur filmmakers. The deadline is January 6. The victorious 1-minute trailer will be used as big part of the marketing of bestseller Golden’s first horror novel in more than a decade, the publisher says. Also the winning filmmaker is promised a sit-down with one of the judges, which is a pretty great way to get your foot in the Hollywood door. Snowblind details a devastated New England town coping with the scars of a fatal blizzard and a new one on the way. The novel is scheduled to be released on January 14,. No stranger to Hollywood, Golden, a former Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Hellboy novels scribe, has several projects in studio development.
Warner Bros Strikes Early For Rights To Christopher Golden’s ‘Tin Men’
Warner Bros Signs David S. Goyer To Three-Year First Look Deal
Frank Darabont‘s six-episode TNT drama series, previously known as Lost Angels, will be titled Mob City. It will premiere on Wednesday, December 4th at 10 PM. In conjunction with the announcement, the network also has released a first-look video for the period drama, based on the book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City. Darabont wrote and directed the pilot for Mob City, which is set in post-World War II Los Angeles, a city caught between a powerful and corrupt police force and an even more dangerous criminal network determined to make L.A. its West Coast base. Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker (Neal McDonough) has made it his mission to free the city of criminals like Ben “Bugsy” Siegel (Ed Burns) and Mickey Cohen (Jeremy Luke), the ruthless king of the Los Angeles underworld. Co-starring are Jeffrey DeMunn, Jon Bernthal, Gregory Itzin, Robert Knepper, Milo Ventimiglia and Alexa Davalos. Darabont, Michael De Luca and Elliot Webb executive produce.
EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Luke has been cast in a lead role in Frank Darabont’s upcoming TNT series Lost Angels. The 1940s-set crime drama is based on the John Buntin book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City and follows the turmoil surrounding the LAPD and ruthless criminal activities led by gangster Mickey Cohen (Luke). The character was not in the pilot. Luke, repped by Luber Roklin and Pantheon Talent, will next be seen in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directing debut, Don Jon, and in Broken Horses.
Related: Daniel Henney & Brennan Brown In ‘Occult’, Ernie Hudson To Recur On ‘Lost Angels’
When TNT announced last fall it had ordered six episodes for Frank Darabont’s new pilot based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City, the series was untitled. Darabont had been leaning toward L.A. Noir as a title, but he told the website io9 in an interview posted this week that the videogame company Rockstar squelched that idea with threats of litigation. The “company with the video game called L.A. Noire threatened to sue the shit out of me, TNT, every company that actually ever worked in Hollywood”. The series remains untitled because TNT hasn’t settled on one yet, but Darabont said “I do believe the title is going to be Lost Angels”. TNT’s head of programming Michael Wright described the project as “a sweeping tale of the battle for the soul of the city that was waged between the forces of the LAPD and the West Coast mob” — similar to territory covered by the feature Gangster Squad that was based on a different book.
UPDATE, 1 PM:: I can understand why Godzilla is trying to shed producers, because there are plenty. Mary Parent is about done with a deal to come aboard on the producer roster. Parent, whose Disruption banner is based at Paramount, takes the job after working closely with Legendary on the Guillermo del Toro-directed Pacific Rim.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:42 AM: As it stomps its way toward a March production start, Godzilla has two significant developments in the offing. Frank Darabont, who veered into genre territory by launching the AMC series The Walking Dead, has been hired by producer-financier Legendary Pictures to do a final rewrite on the script that was written by The Seventh Son scribe Max Borenstein.
At the same time, Warner Bros-based producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee, who were among the producers who came into Legendary with a Toho rights deal for the iconic reptile, are in a huge battle with the financier-producer. Legendary, which now controls the rights, wants to drop the producers from the film. As it stands right now, the 3D picture will be produced by Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni, along with Brian Rogers, the latter of whom was on the ground floor of the Toho deal. The film will be directed by Monsters helmer Gareth Edwards and has been dated for May 16, 2014 release. Read More »
Frank Darabont, Michael Shamberg, Pietro Scalia Set For Zurich Master Classes
The Zurich Film Festival today announced this year’s headliners for its Master Class series. Instructors will include writer-director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Walking Dead); producer Michael Shamberg (Pulp Fiction, Erin Brockovich); editor Pietro Scalia (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down), producer Greg Shapiro (The Hurt Locker), screenwriter Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, About Elly); director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House, Easy Money), director Benh Zeitlin (Beasts Of The Southern Wild) and UTA’s David Flynn. Additionally producer Jerry Weintraub (the Ocean’s Eleven series, among others) will lead a session as well as receive a career achievement award. Espinosa, Shamberg and Scalia also will be on the fest’s fiction jury of which Darabont will serve as president. Richard Gere will receive the fest’s Golden Icon award and John Travolta will be honored with the Golden Eye award at the opening night screening of Oliver Stone’s Savages. Fest runs September 20-30.
Italy’s Eagle Acquires Venice Opener ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’
Eagle Pictures has snapped up Italian rights to director Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist ahead of its world premiere Wednesday at the Venice Film Festival. K5 International is handling international sales. The movie is also screening at Toronto on September 8th. Based on the novel by Mohsin Hamid, it stars Kate Hudson and Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Trishna) plus Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Martin Donovan and Om … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In his first cable series gig, former Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia is set to star in Frank Darabont’s TNT drama pilot L.A. Noir, a fast-paced crime drama set in Los Angeles during the 1940s and ’50s. He is expected to join The Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal, who has been in negotiations for another lead. Based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City, the show tells the true story of a decades-long conflict between the LAPD, under the determined leadership of Police Chief William Parker, and ruthless criminal elements led by mobster Mickey Cohen, a one-time boxer who rose to the top of LA’s criminal world. Ventimiglia will play Ned Stax, a former marine who served with Joe Teague (Bernthal) during WWII, now a budding lawyer groomed to be a master “fixer” for the mob. In addition to writing, former Walking Dead showrunner Darabont is directing the pilot and will executive produce with Michael De Luca and Elliot Webb for TNT Original Prods. Ventimiglia, repped by CAA and Management 360, fielded interest from broadcast pilots this season before opting to go with L.A. Noir. His series credits also include a stint on Gilmore Girls.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
During AMC’s session for The Walking Dead, the producers of the hit zombie drama were asked about recent reports that ousted showrunner Frank Darabont had a different idea for the show’s second season premiere than the one that aired, but it was rejected. “The story was one we discussed internally; that was Frank’s pitch and it was one of many ideas examined in the writers’ room,” said executive producer Glen Mazarra, Darabont’s successor at the helm of the series. “It just felt like a stall and we wanted to get to our characters. We have a lot of ideas like that. … That was not something that was rejected by another party. That’s not accurate.” Darabont’s plan was allegedly a flashback to the early days of the zombie apocalypse. It told the story of a zombie soldier The Walking Dead lead Rick (Andrew Lincoln) came across in the series’ pilot, ending with their encounter before the show were to pick up with Rick and his crew in Episode 2. Read More »
L.A. Noir, the spec script Frank Darabont started shopping shortly after his ouster from AMC’s The Walking Dead, has landed at TNT with a pilot order. The project is based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City, which chronicles the epic battle between Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen. In addition to writing, Darabont is set to direct the pilot and will executive produce with Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Moneyball ) and Elliot Webb (Tall Time Tales). TNT Original Prods will produce. Read More »