KTLA Reporter Sues AARP Over 'Movies for Grown-Ups Awards'

Sam Rubin says he used all his industry goodwill to land a nationwide distributor for the newly televised ceremony but AARP backed out.
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Sam Rubin

Sam Rubin's production company footed the bill to bring AARP's Movies for Grown-Ups Awards to television and, despite a successful show, the company isn't keeping its promise to sign a long-term deal, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in L.A. County Superior Court.

"By pulling the rug out from under Mr. Rubin after he had succeeded in securing the required distribution deal, AARP severely harmed the reputation and goodwill in the industry that took Mr. Rubin decades to create," writes Rubin's attorney Keith Wesley. "In addition, Plaintiff incurred substantial out-of-pocket costs and lost business opportunities because of its work on the AARP project."

The awards ceremony, which the complaint says honors films that cater to 50+ crowds, began in 2002 but wasn't televised until last year after Rubin pitched the idea to AARP.

According to the complaint, AARP was hesitant to agree to a long-term production commitment so Ruben produced the 2015 show to air on KTLA at his own expense to "prove the concept." 

"AARP agreed that, if Mr. Rubin followed through with his offer and the show was a success, AARP would negotiate in good faith a minimum five-year deal," Wesley writes.

A few weeks after the show aired, Rubin and producer Robb Weller flew to D.C. to meet with AARP executives where they presented a long-term vision, a sizzle reel and a budget which included funding from advertisers.

Negotiations of a long-term agreement then began, but were moving too slowly to finish in time to produce the 2016 event. So they entered into a stop-gap agreement that said Rubin's company would be paid $50,000 regardless, but their long-term deal hinged on him securing distribution for the show. 

"In short, if Mr. Rubin obtained guaranteed distribution for no less than half the country on or before September 30, 2015, then AARP was contractually required to attempt in good faith to complete an agreement with Mr. Rubin," Wesley writes. "On the other hand, if Mr. Rubin failed to obtain the requisite distribution by September 30, 2015, then AARP could do as it wished."

Rubin recruited Gavin Polone for assistance in finding a distribution partner, and with his help Rubin was able land WGN-America.

Then, the lawsuit claims, AARP senior vice president Myrna Blyth subjected Rubin and Weller to "lengthy verbal abuse" over the phone and then emailed that AARP was no longer interested in his services or the deal with WGN.

Rubin is suing AARP for breach of contract and promissory fraud and is seeking general and punitive damages. 

AARP has not yet responded to a request for comment. 

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