3:04pm PT by Eriq Gardner
MSNBC Host Ed Schultz Sued By Agent
Talk show host Ed Schultz is being sued by a man who claims he's owed money for his work in setting up his nightly program on MSNBC. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Michael Queen alleges that his prior work as Schultz's agent entitles him to 25 percent of Schultz's income after expenses for hosting The Ed Show.
Queen says that in 2007, before he even met Schultz, he discussed bringing him to NBC with Tim Russert, then senior vp of NBC News. At the time, Schultz was a syndicated radio host.
The following year, according to the complaint, the two met as Queen gave Schultz a tour of the NBC studio and pitched the idea behind the show. Further development meetings allegedly ensued, and Queen says he taped Schultz appearances on a variety of TV networks to create a demonstration reel to sell the prospective show.
In 2008, the parties and Schultz's lawyer are said to have exchanged e-mails, memorializing an agency agreement that purportedly gave Queen the exclusive right to represent Schultz in negotiations with CNN in exchange for 25percent of Schultz's profits from the program. Schultz allegedly made excuses to delay signing a contract, but continued to encourage development and told Queen, "Any TV deal will obviously involve you."
Queen says he then pitched Jeff Zucker and Ben Silverman at NBC, Roger Ailes at Fox News and Phil Griffin at MSNBC.
Griffin is said to have told Queen, "Thanks, but no thanks" because his schedule was already full.
In June 2008, Schultz is alleged to have taped a pilot using $11,500 of Queen's money. Schultz is also said to have moved to DC with Queen's assistance.
The following March, Griffin is said to have called Schultz directly and offered him a chance to host The Ed Show. At that point, Queen says Schultz ceased contact with him.
MSNBC management allegedly ordered Schultz to repay the cost of the pilot, but Queen believes he's now entitled to more. He says that Schultz was making a $1 million salary soon after the show aired and now believes the talk show host is making a substantially higher salary. Schultz averages about 250,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo and has built his brand on being a populist, particularly on labor issues.
Attempts to reach Schultz for comment were unsuccessful.