'MacGyver' Spinoff Sparks Profits Suit

Does a 2016 reboot count as a "spinoff" under a 1984 contract?
Annette Brown/CBS
Lucas Till (left) and George Eads on the 2016 series premiere of 'MacGyver'

In the era of reboots and revivals, a lawsuit over the new MacGyver series is exploring the definition of "spinoff."

Hanzer Holdings, the successor in interest to Major Talent Agency, and Arlita, another successor to MTA, are suing CBS for breach of contract. They claim MTA's work as a packaging agent in connection with the original MacGyver entitled it to a cut of the new series.

According to the complaint, Paramount in 1984 entered into an agreement with the loan-out companies of Henry Winkler and John Rich, and CBS is the successor in interest to the studio's rights and liabilities under the contract. That deal included a package commission agreement between MTA and Paramount, which Hanzer and Alita claim included a percentage of gross broadcast network license fees for any spinoff series. 

"At the time of the 1984 Agreement, the term 'spinoff,' unless further defined, was broadly understood in the industry to mean a television series that is based on, comes out of, or otherwise derives from an earlier television series, including what are referred to today as, among other things, 'reboots,' 'revivals,' 'remakes,' 'sequels,' and 'spin-offs,'" writes attorney Ariel Neuman in the complaint. "There is no requirement in the 1984 Agreement that MTA perform any services, or be requested to perform any services, in order to receive the payments."

Hanzer and Arlita say they contacted CBS prior to the September 2016 premiere of MacGyver, but the studio has refused to make any payments. They are seeking actual and compensatory damages. CBS did not immediately reply to a request for comment. 

Read the full complaint, below.