And the saga between The Walking Dead’s first showrunner, Frank Darabont, and AMC continues.
As you may remember, Frank sued TWD’s home network late last year, claiming he was owed millions in unpaid profits from the show he helped bring to the small screen. Frank and his agents at CAA claim that since AMC licensed TWD to AMC, they are owed “tens of millions of dollars” in unpaid profits.
Now, per The Hollywood Reporter, it looks like Frank and his team have scored a small victory in the discovery stage of the process. At a court hearing earlier this month, Frank’s attorneys persuaded a New York judge to order the network to hand over licensing agreements for two of its other super successful shows — Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
AMC had initially resisted giving up that information, writing to the judge earlier this year, “Doubling down on their ill-conceived theory of the case, Plaintiffs [Frank, etc.] 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.”
In other words, AMC felt Frank was “fishing” for important info and was very wary of making the public company’s private information known to all as it could damage future negotiations and projects in the works.
Unfortunately for AMC, New York judge Eileen Bransten doesn’t view Frank’s team’s quest for documents as a fishing expedition. Instead, she agrees with Frank. “I consider that based on the complaint and the request in the complaint, I consider the request made by plaintiff to have AMC's license agreements with unaffiliated studio Sony and Lionsgate as it concerns two events, Breaking Bad and Mad Men, I consider that to be a proper discovery request and I'm going to permit documents to be released for that purpose,” Judge Bransten said at the hearing a few weeks ago.
The hope for Frank’s team, then, is that the licensing agreements for Mad Men and Breaking Bad will prove the licensing agreement that was put in place for TWD doesn’t even compare. For their part, AMC insists the deal Frank had in place with the network allowed them to “specify imputed license fee”
AMC hasn't fought back and filed any summary judgment motion yet, but they are apparently seeking the judge's blessing to “explore other cable TV contingent compensation agreements handled by CAA” in order to establish that the profits deal Frank got “actually exceeded industry standards.”
Sounds like both sides are fighting dirty! Do you think this small victory for Frank is bad news for AMC, or is it too early to tell? Tell us below!
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres in October 2014 on AMC.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter