By Craig Martin
Nearly a year-and-a-half after Frank Darabont and the Creative Arts Agency (CAA) took their first legal swing at AMC over alleged unpaid fees, self-dealing and more from “The Walking Dead,” they are back again to take another bite out of the studio that they feel wronged them. In a proposed amended complaint filed Tuesday, Darabont and CAA claim that AMC has played even faster and looser.
Surprisingly, the complaint has also altered the language of the wrongful termination claim that had stood as a pillar of the original filing on December 17, 2013. Darabont exited “The Walking Dead” abruptly in July 2011 after the first season had aired and season two was in production.
The plaintiffs have called the upcoming “Fear the Walking Dead” as “derivative productions” for which Darabont is due payment. “Plaintiffs are entitled to payments and/or contingent compensation under the terms of the agreement for ‘Talking Dead’ and any subsequent derivative productions, including the forthcoming scripted spinoff to ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘Fear the Walking Dead,’” says the 30-page complaint put before N.Y. state courts Tuesday.
“Several months after this litigation commenced, AMC Studios changed the way that it accounted to Darabont by issuing participation statements in a new multi-page format,” claims the amended complaint. “Based on this new format and deposition testimony in this litigation, it is now evident that AMC Studios has improperly reduced Darabont’s Developed By Profits from 10% to 7.5% and improperly reduced Darabont’s EP/Showrunner Profits from 2.5% to 1.875%, in both instances treating Darabont’s Profit participation as only 75% vested. Defendants’ actions and position only became clear after AMC Studios changed the format of Darabont’s participation statements and following the recent testimony of an AMC executive, who confirmed that AMC was in fact treating Darabont’s share of Profits under Paragraph 13 as only 75% vested.”
Aiming for 100% vesting, the lawyers for the producer and CAA add with the kicker: “AMC never informed Darabont that his share of Profits was being reduced in this way.” With no objection to the filing of Monday’s amended complaint, though they “do not concede the truth of any of the allegations asserted” – the next move now is up to AMC.