12:15pm PT by Lesley Goldberg, Ashley Cullins
'Black Lightning' Producer Salim Akil Sued for Alleged Domestic Violence
Black Lightning producer Salim Akil is being sued for domestic violence and breach of contract by a woman who claims to have been the married executive's girlfriend.
Amber Dixon Brenner says she pitched a screenplay called Luv & Perversity in the East Village to Akil in 2016, and it was based on their alleged "physically and sexually abusive relationship."
The story, she says, centers on "a young, attractive, black entertainment professional, who falls in love with a dominant and aggressive man who turns her life upside down." Akil emailed her saying he was "really enjoying" the script, according to the complaint, and later used the idea as the basis for the OWN drama Love Is.
Brenner's graphic lawsuit claims she and Akil began an affair a decade ago and were together up until last year. During that time, she claims he hit her and forced her to perform oral sex on multiple occasions. She also says he photographed a sexual encounter without permission.
Brenner is suing for breach of implied contract regarding her screenplay and for domestic violence for the alleged abuse during their relationship. She is seeking damages for the use of her ideas and for emotional distress.
Brenner is also suing Akil and OWN for copyright infringement. That complaint, which was filed Oct. 22 in California federal court, claims her screenplay was used as the basis for Love Is.
Representatives for Love Is and Black Lightning producers Warner Bros. Television as well as publicists for Akil did not immediately respond to The Hollywood Reporter's request for comment.
Akil is the second showrunner in WBTV and The CW's Greg Berlanti-created DC Comics universe to face misconduct allegations. A year ago, the studio fired The Flash, Supergirl and Arrow showrunner Andrew Kreisberg following a suspension and investigation into multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Nineteen men and women, all of whom chose to remain anonymous, came forward to accuse the executive producer of sexual misconduct, including inappropriate touching, which took place over several years. Many were current or former employees of the shows Kreisberg exec produced. He allegedly touched people and kissed women without consent and asked for massages from female staff.
Akil exec produces Black Lightning alongside his wife of nearly 20 years, Mara Brock Akil. The duo co-created the OWN series Love Is, which is slated to return for its second season in 2019. Season two of Black Lightning is currently airing on The CW. Salim Akil recently parted ways with ICM Partners, which continues to rep Brock Akil (who has been a longtime client there). He currently does not have agency representation. Brock Akil created the UPN comedy Girlfriends and its spinoff, The Game, as well as BET's Being Mary Jane. The duo moved their overall deal from BET, where they had been since 2011, to WBTV in 2016.
On Sunday, Akil's attorney Stephen D. Barnes issued the following statement: "These allegations are deeply upsetting — but they are also totally untrue. We will defend Salim to the fullest against the false and offensive claims that a woman with whom he had a past relationship has included in multiple unsubstantiated lawsuits. Salim looks forward to clearing his name and to being able to focus on his work and his family.”
Dec. 2, 2:23 p.m. Updated with Akil's attorney's statement.