February 22, 2013 10:25am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Anger Management' Lawsuit Claims Joe Roth Committed Fraud to Satisfy Charlie Sheen
The producer suing Joe Roth for allegedly being cut out of FX's Anger Management is seeking to file an amended lawsuit that adds new fraud charges.
Jason Shuman and his Blue Star Entertainment are suing Roth after spending two years developing the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson film into a TV series. The plaintiffs contend that Roth's Revolution Studios breached a 2010 written producer agreement that entitled him to compensation and credit.
Recently, Roth submitted summary judgment papers that argued that his commitments were honored and that Shuman's work on an Anger Management series that would have starred Cedric the Entertainer was different from the ultimate Anger Management series starring Charlie Sheen.
But in a motion to submit an amended complaint, Shuman's attorneys say that the argument is "nonsense" and that the defendants went behind Shuman's back to negotiate with Sheen and fraudulently cut Shuman out of the lucrative Anger Management series to satisfy the actor's backend ownership participation.
Shuman's attorney Bryan Freedman say it's "disingenuous" to say that Shuman was only working on Anger Management featuring Cedric the Entertainer.
"Why did Defendants continue to have Plaintiffs work on the Anger Management television series through July 2011, eight months after Cedric left," asks Shuman's court papers. "Moreover, why did Defendants sign the 2010 Anger Management Agreement in October 2010, one month after Cedric left the project?"
Freedman says the motive is simple.
"Knowing they would lose significant backend ownership to Sheen, Defendants kept Plaintiffs from knowing anything about Sheen's involvement," he writes. "If the Defendants lost backend ownership in the Anger Management television series to Sheen and his producing team, they had to make up for the loss by not honoring their contractual obligations to Plaintiffs. Indeed, once Charlie Sheen came onboard and the Defendants lost a significant portion of their backend ownership in the Anger Management television series, Defendants informed Plaintiffs that they were not honoring their contractual obligations to them."
Ascribing motives is, of course, speculative, but Shuman -- who is demanding more than $50 million in damages over a TV series that has been valued at $700 million from a fruitful Lionsgate-handled syndication -- makes one point in particular that forms the basis of new claims: that Shuman was given "direct instructions to continue to shop the Anger Management television series" around while at the same time, Roth was working on a secret deal.
This allegation, plus the alleged failure in 2011 to reveal Sheen's involvement, form the basis of new claims of negligent and intentional misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud and breach of good faith and fair dealing.
In the proposed amended complaint, Shuman's lawyer also says that the alleged misrepresentations went two ways -- that the defendants didn't want Lionsgate, Sheen and others to know about Blue Star's involvement because "they wanted to take all the credit for creating the TV Show themselves." (As THR previously reported, Sheen said he never heard of Shuman.)
Louis Petrich, who represents the defendants, wasn't immediately available for comment.
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