July 12, 2011 11:03am PT by Matthew Belloni
'Knight Rider' Producer Glen Larson Sues Universal for Millions in Unpaid Profits (Exclusive)
Legendary television producer Glen Larson has sued Universal claiming he was cheated out of millions of dollars in profits from some of the most iconic shows of the 1970s and ‘80s.
Larson, who presided over a remarkable run of hits including Knight Rider, Six Million Dollar Man, Magnum P.I., Battlestar Galactica and other shows, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. In a complaint obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, he alleges a decades-long fraud perpetrated by a studio that never once sent him profit participation statements despite his shows earning hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Indeed, as the shows make more money for Universal, the deficit that Larson Productions must overcome continually increases,” the complaint states. “It’s Hollywood’s version of being a sharecropper.”
We’ve reached out to Universal for comment and will update with a response. UPDATE: An NBCU spokesman sends us this comment:
"We are surprised that Mr. Larson has brought this lawsuit. He has been well compensated for his work on Universal's shows. Mr. Larson did not conduct any audit or otherwise notify Universal of any claim in advance of this filing. We have not seen the lawsuit."
Larson began his long relationship with Universal in 1975. His deals entitled him to “net profits” from his shows.
Universal was “aware that they manipulated the accounting in such a manner that made it impossible for Larson Productions to ever receive contingent compensation from the television shows in the ordinary course of business,” the complaint states.
Jack Klugman, star of the Larson-produced show Quincy, M.E., also has sued Universal over profits.
The complaint alleges causes of action for breach of contract, declaratory relief, accounting, restitution for unjust enrichment, money due on open book account, conversion, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unfair business practices.
Larson is represented by Neville Johnson, Douglas Johnson and James Ryan of Johnson and Johnson in Beverly Hills.