June 19, 2012 6:52pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Ashton Kutcher Production Company Sues DMV for Backing Out of Reality Series
Katalyst Media, the production company run by Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, is suing California's Department of Motor Vehicles for allegedly getting cold feet and backing out of a deal to participate in a reality series based on its employees.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Katalyst and production company Soda and Pop, Inc. claim they are owed at least $1.44 million in damages for breach of contract. Read the complaint here (PDF download).
Katalyst, which has produced reality series Punk'd, Beauty and the Geek and True Beauty, says it negotiated in 2010 with the DMV to develop a half-hour reality series featuring employees and patrons of the DMV. "The series was conceived and designed to capture the variously humorous, emotional, dramatic, moving, humanizing and entertaining situations that arise on a daily basis at DMV's more than 170 offices across the state of California," according to the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by THR.
But after getting a commitment in writing to work together on four initial episodes and up to six possible seasons of the show, and after Katalyst secured a deal with cable network TruTV to air the show, the DMV is said to have "abruptly and without justifiable excuse, changed course," according to the suit. "In a five sentence letter to Katalyst producer Jason Goldberg, [DMV deputy director Mike] Marando simply declared that DMV no longer considered the series to be in its 'best interests' and would therefore 'not be moving forward on such a project.'"
We've reached out to the DMV for comment. UPDATE: The DMV gave up this non-comment comment: "We don't comment on pending litigation," says Mike Marando, deputy director of public affairs at the agency.
The plaintiffs are represented by Marty Singer, Michael Weinstein and Michael Mancini of LA's Lavely & Singer.