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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Frank Darabont sues AMC over The Walking Dead

Frank Darabont, the ex-showrunner for AMC's The Walking Dead, has decided to file a lawsuit against AMC over the show's profits. Darabont is accusing AMC of "self dealing" the show's profits by setting low license fees affecting the compensation for those involved. He is also claiming he was wrongfully terminated by AMC and says he should continue to receive a credit as "executive producer" for The Walking Dead, Talking Dead, and the upcoming spin-off by Robert Kirkman. AMC declined comments, but Darabont and his agency, CAA, are asking for a monetary settlement.

There is a slim chance this will go to trial. It is likely that AMC will settle out of court and give Darabont a cash settlement. This isn't uncommon with television shows due to the relaxed syndication laws passed in 1995. Examples of previous cases include:

Home Improvement producers suing Disney
Alan Alda (M*A*S*H*) sued 20th Century Fox
Will & Grace creators sued NBC
Smallville producers sued Warner Bros.

All claims were that the studios did not distribute the money properly. The main difference with this case by Darabont against AMC is he was fired while the season was still running and is including the grievance in the case. In Darabont's original contract, AMC stated that The Walking Dead would be produced by an outside company and he would receive up to 12% compensation from the company. However, AMC decided to self-produce the show and as a result, they decided to self-deal the profits. The contract also included protection against self-dealing profit margins.
The wrongful termination is the clincher, imo. When Darabont was renewed as showrunner, AMC included a lock on him for seasons two and three along with a pay raise. Darabont was suddenly terminated from the show and the suit claims it was to avoid paying him the promised salary per episode and to prevent another pay raise after the third season was over.

AMC should the thanking Darabont. He gave them the best show in the network's history both profit wise and in viewership.

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