Judge Allows CBS to Investigate 'NCIS' Creator's Brain Condition as Trial Looms
A trial will happen in early February over whether "NCIS: Los Angeles" is a spinoff and Donald Bellisario has been cheated out of tens of millions of dollars.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has granted CBS' motion to inspect NCIS creator Donald Bellisario's medical records and has pushed back the upcoming trial by two weeks.
The two sides are engaged in a dispute over profits from NCIS: Los Angeles, which Bellisario contends is a spinoff of his JAG and entitles him to participate in the show and/or be rewarded financially.
Last month, the heated dispute worth tens of millions of dollars turned grim over news that the 77-year-old TV show creator had been diagnosed with a severe brain condition known as hydrocephalus. According to Bellisario's doctor, in the past year, the TV legend has suffered memory loss, disorientation, unsteadiness and lack of coordination -- and CBS sought to depose Bellisario's doctors and examine medical records to figure out whether a debilitating condition could have prevented Bellisario from adequately performing his duties and responsibilities as showrunner.
Bellisario opposed any trial delay, objecting to what he considered to be an invasion of his privacy rights and the physician-patient privilege. Bellisario's attorneys in legal papers said CBS' moves were a "blatant attempt to harass, intimidate and burden."
CBS defended its requests as integral to the case and blasted Bellisario's "stonewalling" and using the medical issue to get a preferred trail date. The network said his attorneys were "trying to leverage Bellisario's medical condition in their own favor" after first raising it themselves.
A hearing was held Tuesday in front of judge Gregory Alarcon. CBS' attorney Scott Edelman at Gibson Dunn tells The Hollywood Reporter that the judge granted the medical discovery request. As such, a potential trial has also been pushed back two weeks.
On January 25, the two sides will begin to make jury selections. The following week, a trial will commence.
The two sides continue to fight over the witnesses and testimony that will be presented at trial. Among the issues to be determined: Whether chief executive Leslie Moonves will take the stand, whether Bellisario will be prevented from portraying CBS as a "wealthy, greedy corporation" and whether there will be discussion at trial about a forthcoming new spinoff of NCIS.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner
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