7:48am PT by Eriq Gardner
'Dog' Chapman Settles Bitter Fight With Reality TV Producer
One of the entertainment industry's longest-running cases has resulted in a settlement, but of course, it can't end without some additional complication.
For six years, Duane "Dog" Chapman has been fighting with Boris Krutonog, an executive producer on the A&E series Dog the Bounty Hunter, over money from the show. The case has touched a New York state court, a New York federal court, a California state court, a Hawaii federal court, the California Labor Commissioner and a California appeals court.
After a marathon of intense litigation, it's nearly over. Chapman and Krutonog have made up. Or at least it would be almost finished except for the fact that neither has been able to attain the settlement money. After cancelling Dog the Bounty Hunter last year, A&E isn't quite ready to release millions of dollars from the show that is sitting in a bank.
To take a step back, Chapman's relationship with Krutonog dates back to 1994 to a "Life Story Option Agreement," whereby Krutonog acquired rights to develop movies and TV shows featuring the bounty hunter.
Eventually, that led to Dog the Bounty Hunter, which premiered in 2004. Krutonog was an early co-executive producer on the series and was entitled to received payments per episode.
Later, a fight broke out between Chapman and Krutonog over money, and the reality star asserted that Krutonog's role was more of a manager or agent.
For six years, the parties have been fighting in various courtrooms about this.
We'll spare the full gory details except to say that in 2010, A&E Television Networks filed an interpleader action in New York federal court. The company deposited $4 million of money from Dog the Bounty Hunter with the idea that Chapman and Krutonog would tussle over the funds, and at the end of the battle, it would transfer the money to whomever emerged victorious.
Well, in late March, a federal judge in New York granted Krutonog summary judgment in part, saying a jury couldn't read the agreement to relieve A&E of the obligation to play Krutonog. (Read the ruling here.) Then, a mediation happened, and Chapman and Krutonog arrived at a settlement. The two figured out a way to divide the $4 million.
But A&E isn't quite ready to write that check.
The network is making some demands before it disburses the money. Chapman has been asked to release potential claims against the network over the canceled show and pay about $1.2 million in legal fees. Meanwhile, the attorneys for Chapman and Krutonog -- Marty Singer and Howard King, respectively -- have turned from bitter legal enemies to frustrated friends-in-arms.
Says Singer, "A&E was supposed to be Switzerland. They have to release the funds."
A&E declined comment, citing the confidentiality of the mediation.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @eriqgardner