Johnson sues over 'Bridges' profits


"Nash Bridges" star Don Johnson is suing series producer Rysher Entertainment and the company's current owner, Qualia Capital, for "tens of millions of dollars" over profits from the CBS series.

In a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Don Johnson Prods., Johnson claims that, as part of his original agreement with Rysher over "Bridges" — which he helped develop, executive produced and starred in — he obtained 50% of the copyright to the show if the series ran for more than 66 episodes. It ended its run in 2001 after 122 episodes.

"As co-owner of the copyright, Don Johnson Prods. is entitled to 50% of the profits from the copyright," the complaint said. "However, Don Johnson Prods. has not received any of its 50% share of the profits from its copyright interest in the series … (and) no money from any of the revenue associated with syndication of the series."

According to the suit, "Bridges" earned "over 300 million in revenue and over $150 million from its syndication," with Qualia and Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment — which owned Rysher until selling it to Qualia — taking in $100 million during the past eight years.

DJP's deal with Rysher, according to the suit, also entitled it to 50% of the show's net profit — the balance of gross receipts after all costs and fees are deducted.

Johnson questions the accounting statements he has received from Rysher, including the most recent one stating that the show has brought in more than $316 million in gross revenue but still ran a $150 million deficit.

Johnson also cites a clause in his agreement with Rysher that gives his company exclusive rights to exploit the series through "interactive devices" and claims that his attempts to do so online and on mobile devices have been thwarted by Rysher.

In addition to the unspecified financial damages, the suit, filed by Kirkland & Ellis Llp., seeks an injunction ordering Rysher and Qualia to grant DJP access to the "Bridges" master tapes for use on interactive devices.

Johnson was one of hottest actors in the 1990s with back-to-back TV hits "Miami Vice" and "Bridges" and movies including "Tin Cup." However, he has done little acting since "Bridges" ended.

In 2004, he filed for bankruptcy to save his Colorado home. Last year, he barely avoided foreclosure by paying off a $14.5 million debt less then 24 hours before the property was scheduled to be auctioned. (partialdiff)