10:31am PT by Eriq Gardner
Universal Settles Profit Dispute Over 'Knight Rider,' 'Battlestar Galactica'
Universal has struck a settlement with the heirs of the late Glen Larson, the prolific producer of Knight Rider, Six Million Dollar Man, Magnum P.I., Battlestar Galactica and other shows. The agreement stops a huge "Hollywood accounting" trial set to open in January.
Larson's lawsuit was filed in 2011 and alleged he was denied profit participation on 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."
Universal defended the lawsuit by raising the issue of statute of limitations, and in hopes of finding evidence that Larson filed untimely claims, served subpoenas on many in Hollywood including the Ziffren Brittenham law firm, International Creative Management and the law firms and accountants who handled Glen Larson's split from his ex-wives. On the latter front, there was an effort to show that Larson's profit participation came up in divorce proceedings and thus he was on the clock to file a lawsuit.
In Nov. 2014, Larson died at the age of 77 and was survived by his wife Jeannie and nine children.
The lawsuit continued, and in September, the Larson estate, represented by attorney Neville Johnson, scored a big success when L.A. Superior Court judge Yvette Palazuelos denied Universal's bid for summary judgment.
The judge pointed to six statements between 1983 and 1994 reporting the TV series were in deficits and wrote that Larson "had no duty to 'verify' the representations of the statements issued for the series."
This primed a trial to examine Larson's claims for breach of contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation along with Universal's statute of limitations defense. The trial would also have delved into television in the '70s and '80s since Larson alleged he was promised the "most favorable definition of net profits" as a top producer and that Universal hadn't fulfilled the promise.
Last week, in the midst of figuring out what evidence would be heard at trial, the parties submitted a notice of settlement of the entire case. Terms haven't been released. Scott Edelman, the attorney leading Universal's defense, called the outcome "satisfactory to all parties."