11:20am PT by Matthew Belloni
Current Files Cross-Complaint Vs. Olbermann, Cites 'Persistent' Breach of Contract
Current TV is fighting back against its former anchor Keith Olbermann, filing an extended cross-complaint Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court that calls Olbermann's recently filed lawsuit "frivolous" and "riddled with falsehoods."
According to the court filing, a copy of which was obtained by THR, Olbermann was fired March 29 due to "persistent," material breach of his contract, including the failure to show up at work, sabotaging the network and attacking its executives.
The cross-complaint first takes on Olbermann's $50 million lawsuit, which Friday's filing says "levels a series of ad hominem attacks on the principals of Current who, in fact, have done nothing wrong. Current had every right to terminate Mr. Olbermann's services, rather than continuing to pay a princely sum while receiving a pauper's performance in return."
Specifically, Current claims Olbermann:
1. Leaked the financial terms of his Current contract (reportedly $10 million per year for five years) to the media, in breach of the confidentiality provisions of his deal
2. Failed to work with Current to promote the network, refusing outright to work with its communications executive and instructing his Countdown staff to do the same.
3. Took unauthorized leave from his show. In January and February alone, Olbermann was absent 19 of 41 work days.
4. Refused to participate in Current's special coverage of the Republican caucuses and primaries despite being asked to do so, then failing to tell his staff when Countdown was to be pre-empted by those specials. Olbermann also allegedly leaked details of the dispute to the media, painting Current in a negative light.
Current is asking for a judge to declare it doesn't have to pay Olbermann on the remainder of his contract. The network also wants back the money it has already paid the fired anchor, plus additional damages.
"In particular, Current seeks a determination that it is no longer obligated to pay a dime to Mr. Olbermann who, having already been paid handsomely for show up sporadically and utterly failing to keep his end of the bargain, now seeks to be paid tens of millions more for not working at all," the complaint states.
Current has enlisted New York firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, as well as Los Angeles firm Kendall Brill Kleiger, whose lead partner Bert Deixler has extensive experience in entertainment disputes. Olbermann is repped by L.A.'s Patty Glaser and her firm Glaser Weil.
More to come.