In a case that had as many ups and downs as the tide off the coast of the 50th state, CBS and the estate of Hawaii Five-0 creator Leonard Freeman were handed a victory today in the $100 million lawsuit by talent agent George Litto. “The Court grants judgment in favor of CBS and the Freeman Parties with respect to the Third Amended Complaint,” said LA Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White today in a proposed statement of decision (read it here). The network’s official response today was a simple “Mahalo” to the end of the 2-year case. The LA Superior Court judge’s decision comes after a very short trial earlier this month in the long-festering litigation. Litto was the agent of Freeman, who created the original Hawaii Five-0 that ran from 1968-80, passed away in 1974. His initial May 2012 lawsuit against the estate sought $10 million in punitive damages and a big swell of the shares of the profits from the reboot version of the Hawaii-set cop show, which CBS brought back in 2010. The new Hawaii Five-O wrapped its fourth season on May 9 and will be back for another cycle in the fall, free of this case.
EXCLUSIVE: Hawaii Five-0 showrunner Peter Lenkov has signed a new overall deal with CBS Television Studios, the studio behind the CBS crime drama. Under the two-year pact, he will continue as executive producer/showrunner on the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, which he developed and co-wrote with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci and has run since the pilot. Now in its fourth season, Hawaii Five-0 is an important asset for CBS TV Studios as it has a rich off-network syndication deal and is a strong international seller. The new overall deal secures Lenkov’s leadership on the show for the next two seasons and also calls for him to develop new projects for network and cable. This past season, he re-teamed with Kurtzman and Orci to develop high-concept drama Salvation, which sold to CBS.
Chi McBride has been upped to series regular on CBS‘ Hawaii Five-O. CBS announced last summer McBride, who starred in the network’s short-lived Golden Boy, would guest star on the fourth season debut of Five-0, playing SWAT Captain Lou Grover – a character from the original series. At the time, it was suggested more episodes with McBride were likely. With its switch from Monday at 10 PM to Fridays at 9 this season, and without those younger-skewing Monday comedies as its leadin, Five-0 is up 17% in overall audience — from 10.2 million to nearly 12 million viewers — but is down 19% in the demo; its median age has increased from last season’s 55.8 years at this point last season, to 59.5 this season to date.
“Well, I know this sounds corny, but the only thing I ever wanted in my career was to be on CBS, the home of my idol Jackie Gleason,” McBride enthused in today’s announcement.
They would be on more stable legal footing if they just jumped in the surf off the coasts of America’s 50th state. After being in, then out, and then in again, CBS today is really back in the multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the Hawaii Five-O reboot. In a downtown hearing today, LA Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon denied the network’s latest bid to be let out of the case brought by talent agent George Litto. In his ruling on the summary judgment motion, Alarcon made no finding on the merits of the actual case, which is now set for a January 21, 2014 trial date. However, the judge did agree with Litto’s contention that CBS had clear knowledge of the partials rights that the talent agent held to the series in conjunction with creator Leonard Freeman’s estate. The agent to Freeman, Litto is seeking $10 million in punitive damages and a share of the profits from the rebooted show, which CBS brought back in 2010. “Once again, this is a procedural hearing, and we remain confident that we’ll prevail on the actual merits of the case at trial,” a CBS spokesperson told me after today’s hearing.
It’s been quite a road to get where CBS is now. In January of this year, Alarcon agreed with CBS’ then demurrer and removed the network from the suit Litto first filed in May 2012. But in July, Alarcon changed his mind and put CBS back in the lawsuit with Freeman’s heirs after the plaintiff assured the court that legal battle over Five-O was about money and not CBS’ ability to continue to produce the show. In September, Judge Elizabeth Allen White denied CBS’ effort to again get out of the case.
Hawaii Five-O‘s Daniel Dae Kim is branching out to producing. He has launched the production banner 3AD, which will be based at CBS TV Studios, the studio behind Hawaii Five-O, with a two-year first-look. Under the pact, Kim will develop and produce projects for network and cable. He is in the process of hiring a development executive. Kim, repped by APA, Anonymous Content and Klevan/Longarzo, is filming the fourth season of CBS’ Hawaii Five-) as Chin Ho Kelly. He rose to fame with his role as Jin Soo Kwon on ABC hit Lost, for which he shared a SAG Award for best drama ensemble.
It wasn’t enough for the makers of Hawaii Five-O to let viewers pick the ending of an episode last season, now they’re giving fans control over a full hour. CBS today unveiled its Fan Built Five-O initiative, a Mad Libs-esque stunt that lets the public vote online for an episode’s half-dozen key story points: scene of the crime, victim, murder weapon, evidence, suspect and takedown. After the polls close on Halloween, the show’s writers will use the winning elements to forge a script. Before production on the episode begins in February, fans will be able to weigh in on such things as wardrobe, props, music and the title. The series hula-ed over to Fridays this season, and after two episodes McGarrett, Danno and company’s ratings are down 21 percent in the demo compared with last year. But it’s up by nearly that percentage in total viewers (9.6 million) on the older-skewing night, which CBS is dominating. Hence the web-voted story ploy targeting the less chronologically challenged. And TV writers thought reality formats were a threat to their livelihoods. Check out the categories and options up for balloting after the jump:
The network isn’t out of the legal surf after all. Today, CBS’ motion to be dismissed as a defendant in the multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the Hawaii Five-O reboot has been denied. Judge Elizabeth Allen White turned down the network’s effort to again be let out of talent agent George Litto’s suit in a hearing Thursday in LA Superior Court. CBS was hoping to see a repeat of its temporary exit from the suit earlier this year. Not that CBS seemed to be sweating today’s decision. “Today was a procedural ruling only, not about the evidence of the case. We’re confident going forward that the facts presented will support a dismissal. Mahalo,” a spokesperson told me after the hearing.
In January, Judge Gregory Alarcon agreed with the network’s then demurrer and removed it from the suit that Five-O creator Leonard Freeman’s talent agent first filed in May 2012. But in July, Alarcon changed his mind and put CBS back in the lawsuit with Freeman’s heirs after the plaintiff assured the court that suit over the show was about money and not CBS’ ability to continue to produce the series. Litto claimed in his initial $10 million suit that the Freeman’s heirs and CBS keep him out of negotiations for the reboot.
EXCLUSIVE: The auspices behind CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 reboot are reteaming for a new drama series. The eye network has put in development Salvation, a high-concept drama executive produced by Hawaii Five-0 developers/exec producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Peter Lenkov and produced by CBS TV Studios. Written by up-and-coming feature writer Matt Wheeler, the project is set in the months leading up to a global, catastrophic event and follows a group of characters’ attempts to deal with the impending destruction of the planet and ensure the survival of humanity. Kurtzman, Orci, Lenkov and Heather Kadin are executive producing, with Wheeler co-exec producing.
This marks the first sale for Kurtzman and Orci’s K/O Paper Products under a deal with CBS TV Studios the company inked in July. Under their previous pact at 20th TV, K/O are producing Fox’s upcoming fall drama series Sleepy Hollow. Lenkov, who has been running Hawaii Five-0 since its 2010 launch, also is under an overall deal at CBS Studios. Wheeler, repped by Management 360 and Verve, penned the script Snatchback for Voltage with Atlas producing and Ross Katz attached to direct. He recently wrote Butcher’s Boy for Sony with Matt Tolmach producing, and is writing the action thriller Splinter for Wayfare Entertainment. CAA reps Kurtzman and Orci, also repped by Michael Gendler, as well as Lenkov.
UPDATE, 1:02 PM: CBS isn’t inclined to make too big a deal about being renamed as a defendant in the multi-million dollar lawsuit over the Hawaii Five-O reboot but the network isn’t taking it lying down either. “This is not a ruling on the merits of the case. It is simply a procedural decision that allows Mr. Litto to allege financial claims against CBS, which we will vigorously contest. It is important to remember that Mr. Litto’s own filing with the court confirms CBS’s rights to produce and broadcast the new Hawaii Five-0,” said the network today. The statement comes in response to LA Superior Court judge Gregory Alarcon putting CBS back in the $10 million suit filed by talent agent George Litto after letting them out of it earlier this year.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:14 AM: They thought they were out, but the judge has made CBS a defendant again in a lawsuit over the Hawaii Five-O reboot. In January, Judge Gregory Alarcon agreed with the network’s demurrer and removed them from the suit that Five-O creator Leonard Freeman’s talent agent George Litto filed in May 2012. The LA Superior Court judge’s change of heart last week was based on evidence over the battle to bring the show, which ran from 1968 to 1980, back in …
CBS won’t be getting caught up in the rough currents of a Hawaii Five-O lawsuit after all. Monday the network was released from a lawsuit filed in May by the agent of Hawaii Five-O creator Leonard Freeman. “Defendant CBS Studios Inc.’s, erroneously sued as CBS Television Network, (“CBS”) Demurrer is sustained without leave to amend,” wrote LA Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon in his tentative ruling (read it here) made final Monday. While the network could be pulled back into the case on appeal, they are out of the case for now. “We appreciate the court’s ruling and are pleased that it brings an appropriate conclusion to our involvement in this lawsuit,” said a CBS spokesman today. Though many of his claims were substantiated, it was time that worked against Freeman’s former agent George Litto - specifically how long it took Litto to file his $10 million suit against the Freeman heirs and adding CBS to the complaint last fall. Litto contended in his suit that the heirs and CBS shut him out of 2010 negotiations for the reboot of the original series that ran from 1968 to 1980. After the 1974 death of Freeman, Litto and the producer’s widow Rose came to an agreement that gave him substantial rights in connection with future versions of the series.
CBS‘ Hawaii Five-0 will be making some TV history on Monday, January 14 when it will become the first primetime drama to allow viewers to choose the ending of an episode in real time. In the episode, the Hawaii Five-0 team investigates the death of an O’ahu State University professor. His boss, his teaching assistant and a student who he busted for cheating are all viable suspects. After each suspect’s motives are revealed, viewers will be able to choose the culprit, any of whom could have committed the crime.
Fans will be able to vote on CBS.com or Twitter during both the East and West coast broadcasts. The votes will be tallied immediately and the most popular ending will become part of each broadcast. All three endings will be available at CBS.com later that evening. “I’ve always felt the most fun aspect of watching a mystery is trying to figure out whodunit,” said Hawaii Five-0 executive producer Peter Lenkov. “Now the Hawaii Five-0 viewers will actually get the chance to tell us who they think committed the crime and we will listen.”
EXCLUSIVE: Ed Asner is reprising his role (again) on CBS’ Hawaii Five-0, playing August March on the cop drama. He originated the role in a 1975 appearance in the first incarnation of the series and returned last year to play the world-class smuggler. His storyline is being extended for the second episode of Season 3, we’re told, and he is headed to Hawaii next week to shoot his scenes. The series is currently in production on the season premiere, which is set to air September 24. The seven-time Emmy winner is plenty busy, as he’s also set to star opposite Alison Sweeney and Greg Vaughn in the Hallmark telefilm Two In, which is shooting in LA for a 2013 premiere. He also just pacted to return to Broadway in the fall to star alongside Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon in Grace, the Craig Wright drama that officially opens October 4 for a limited run. He isrepped by Greene & Associates and manager Perry Zimel.