Arsenio Hall Sued Over Head Writer Position

Paul Raff claims he was promised a top position with the syndicated series that went to another writer.
Arsenio Hall

Comedy writer Paul Raff is now in court over a series of alleged broken promises that he would become a head writer on The Arsenio Hall Show.

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Raff has worked in the business for twenty years, including as a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, six Oscar shows and various television specials.

In the summer of 2012, Raff says he was approached by John Ferriter, a well-known talent agent who previously worked at WME and now is an executive at Octagon Inc. The complaint filed on Monday in L.A. Superior Court paints Ferriter as a man who "wears three hats at all times" -- representing Hall, being a producer at CBS Studios, and lastly, becoming Raff's own agent.

Contacted about a writer gig, the plaintiff says he met at Octagon's offices and soon began doing digital work for Hall's website to improve the talk show host's social media and web presence. Raff acknowledges that it was a freelance job, but says he was "looking further down the road," that Ferriter promised him that the job would "dovetail into the pre-production of the Series" the following summer.

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Raff says his input on Hall's show was solicited and that he completed five clips for the website, "but Hall failed to shoot more because he was lazy and afraid of failure." Nevertheless, Hall supposedly liked Raff's work, ordering his hiring. "No subsequent action was taken," states the lawsuit.

In April 2013, Ferriter is said to have informed Raff that Hall didn't want a head writer, and the plaintiff soon looked towards Ferriter for reassurances. On one occasion, Ferriter wrote, "No, you're on the show. The question is what position."

Whatever oral representations were made, Raff eventually was left out in the cold, as the show's head writer position went to Chris McGuire. Raff believes he was lied to during the process, which resulted in forgoing other work opportunities, and so he's now looking to hold Ferriter, Octagon, Hall and CBS Studios legally responsible on claims of fraudulent inducement, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. Additionally, he's suing the agent for breach of fiduciary duty. Raff is hoping to collect $2 million in damages.