Former 'One Life to Live' Writer Sues ABC Over Royalties

One Life to Live Cast - H 2013
Chapman Baehler

One Life to Live Cast - H 2013

The legal soap opera over One Life to Live has taken another twist.

Allison "Sam" Hall, who served as a co-head writer of the soap opera in the mid-1980s, has filed a lawsuit in New York state court over royalties allegedly owed by ABC after OLTL was shown on Hulu, iTunes and briefly on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

According to the complaint, ABC made a deal in 1984 with Wildercliff, Ltd. for Hall's writing services. The agreement is said to have entitled Hall to a weekly royalty "as long as the One Life to Live series is broadcast."

A copy of the agreement was included as an exhibit in the lawsuit. The royalty payment was $1,000 per week, and it's not spelled out whether "broadcast" is restricted to network television. Hall says he got those weekly royalties until Jan. 13, 2012, when the series ended on ABC.

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By that time, ABC licensed the series to Prospect Park Productions, which planned to launch a web-only series. That relationship has turned sour. Prospect Park is now looking to collect some $100 million in damages in a separate lawsuit that claims ABC had second thoughts and schemed to make a "mega soap" by borrowing characters and allegedly inducing actors to sign secret multiyear contracts with the network.

A relaunched version of OLTL ran as a 30-minute series on Hulu and iTunes until last September, when it was suspended after 40 episodes.

Now, Hall is stepping up to stake a claim that his old contract entitles him to royalties from that period.

"Each week during which such exhibitions by each authorized entity occurred Hall was entitled to be paid the weekly royalties," says the complaint. "Despite due demand, Hall has not been paid any of the weekly royalties to which he is entitled for the exhibition of the series by Prospect Park Productions, iTunes, Hulu and OWN, which total in excess of $50,000."

ABC declined comment.

Twitter: @eriqgardner