7:50am PT by Eriq Gardner
Morgan Spurlock Says #MeToo Confession Didn't Breach Deal for TNT Docuseries on Women's Issues
In recent months, some men have fallen from grace thanks to published accusations of sexual misconduct. Then there's Morgan Spurlock, the documentarian who, apparently inspired by the #MeToo movement, came forward to admit his own culpability, tweeting last December that he was "part of the problem" and detailing some incidents from his past.
As a response, Turner Entertainment Networks decided it couldn't have Spurlock executive produce a TNT docuseries focused on women's issues titled Who Rules the World? and brought a lawsuit intended to recover funds. What's more, Turner moved for a preliminary injunction aimed at stopping Spurlock and Warrior Poets from disbursing funds.
On Monday, the defendants submitted an opposition to the injunction motion. As an initial matter, Spurlock asserts that Turner identified the wrong bank account. Instead of naming the account used for production funds, Spurlock says Turner highlighted his company's general operating account.
But putting aside this issue, the defendants say Turner can't establish a likelihood of winning the lawsuit.
"TEN’s motion is premised on the false assumption that Spurlock’s tweet somehow breached the Agreement," states the opposition brief. "It did not. If TEN wants to walk away from the project, so be it. But that does not mean Warrior Poets breached the Agreement. Furthermore, TEN is not entitled to the funds in the production account. As the Agreement makes clear, the only circumstance under which TEN is entitled to the funds in that account is if TEN exercises its right to take over the production. To date, TEN has not chosen to exercise this right."
The opposition adds that the agreement is between Turner and Warrior Poets, and argues that Spurlock isn't a party. He signed the deal, but attorneys at Murphy Rosen say Spurlock's signature was solely for the purpose of acknowledging that the agreement concerns his services and rights.
"The Agreement contains no 'morals' clause," adds the opposition brief. "Nor does it contain any other provision that grants TEN the right to declare a default under the Agreement if TEN disapproves of prior conduct of Warrior Poets personnel."
Although defendants say there's nothing in the contract that allows Turner to demand repayment of advanced funds, they do acknowledge that Turner is allowed to "take over" the production if the conclusion is drawn that Warrior Poets is "unable to continue" its role in the docuseries.
According to Warrior Poets, production has been suspended, but the defendant hasn't been given firm word on whether Turner is exercising takeover rights.
As for Spurlock, he stepped down from Warrior Poets after his confession, but court papers seem to clarify that he only temporarily abdicated his role at the company while he sought treatment in a rehabilitation facility.