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JAN
15
10 MOS

ABC Doesn't Want Prospect Park to Extend Soaps License

In a $95 million battle over the relaunch of "One Life to Live" and "All My Children," the network says there were no complaints while it used characters from the shows on "General Hospital."

One Life to Live Cast - H 2013
Chapman Baehler
The cast of "One Life to Live"

ABC has responded in court for the first time to the $95 million lawsuit launched by Prospect Park that accuses the network of sabotaging a relaunch of One Life to Live and All My Children.

The first order of business for ABC? Making sure that Prospect Park's hold on the soaps isn't secure.

In November, the plaintiff filed an amended lawsuit that alleges ABC has committed fraud and breached a license agreement. Specifically, the network is accused of realizing its error in abandoning the soaps, scheming "in its quest for a mega soap," borrowing characters to kill them off and inducing actors to sign secret, exclusive, multiyear contracts with the network.

STORY: Soaps Producer Ramps Up ABC Lawsuit: 'Mega Soap' Fraud Scheme Alleged

Besides $95 million in damages, Prospect Park is also demanding "a declaration that Prospect Park's continued payment of the licensing fees under the Agreement is excused; that Prospect Park is entitled to an extension of the License Agreement; and that the term of the License Agreement is tolled, from the time of ABC's breach until the breach is fully remedied."

ABC reacts to that demand with a motion to strike.

"Here, Prospect Park is not asking this Court to resolve an unsettled question by interpreting the Agreement," says the network's papers. "Instead, it is doing the exact opposite: asking this Court to rewrite the contract to unsettle something that parties have already firmly determined -- the term of the License."

The network, represented by Susan Klein at Valle Makoff, wants the lawsuit ridded of a license extension demand. According to ABC, the license agreement allows Prospect Park rights on the soaps for up to 15 seasons of 12 calendar months each unless Prospect ceases production for 18 consecutive months. In that case, rights would revert back to ABC. A relaunched version of OLTL was suspended last September, giving Prospect Park roughly until March 2015 to pick it up again. That is, unless the license agreement is tolled. It's also possible that a trial could take place before that time anyway.

Although ABC doesn't address each of Prospect Park's allegations in detail, the court papers do nod at what the coming defense will look like.

Prospect Park did not complain while ABC used the OLTL characters throughout 2012, says ABC's legal papers. "To the contrary, Prospect Park exercised its Option for both OLTL and AMC in December 2012, and the parties subsequently entered into two additional amendments to the License Agreement, which each extended Prospect Park's time to begin production of the shows and gave ABC continuing use of the OLTL characters on [General Hospital]."

The attorney for Prospect Park wouldn't immediately comment, but response papers will be filed soon.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner