WME Brings Lawsuit Against Scripps Over Commissions

Ghost Adventures - TV Still - H - 2011
Travel Channel

William Morris Endeavor has traveled to court to get commissions on Ghost Adventures, the haunted-house reality program currently in its seventh season on the Travel Channel.

According to a lawsuit that was removed to a California federal court last week, WME was the agent for MY Tupelo Entertainment -- the show's production company -- and that before the show premiered in 2008, an executive at Travel Channel agreed to WME's "standard package commission."

The agency says that it got paid its initial fee during the show's first season but has been owed money ever since.

The Travel Channel was acquired by Scripps Networks in 2012 for $103 million. WME now alleges that Scripps has breached a contractual obligation to pay the commission.

Package commissions don't generally get a lot of press, but often times, it's not clients who are paying the agencies. When a talent agency puts several elements of a TV show together, they often derive packaging fees from the studio. The arrangement provides more upside to the agency as such a structure allows for financial participation in the show's ongoing success.

PHOTOS: THR's Agent Roundtable: 6 Top Female Dealmakers on Industry Diplomacy, Clients and Competition

The packaging deal on Ghost Adventures is alleged to follow a fairly typical "3-3-10" deal.

According to the complaint, Travel Channel was to pay 3 percent of the show's final production budget, 3 percent of production costs out of half of the show's net proceeds, and 10 percent of back-end proceeds.

STORY: WME Punks CAA With 'CAAN'T' Posters Around Hollywood

WME says that in 2008, a senior vice president of the network confirmed the agreement in writing and paid the upfront portion in the amount of $45,656.

In May 2009, MY Tupelo allegedly was "informed by Travel Channel that no arrangement with WME, which would entitle it to its package commission structure, had been reached."

Represented by attorney Michael Garfinkel at Perkins Coie, WME demands that Scripps be ordered to pay damages believed to be at least $500,000.

Scripps hasn't yet responded to a request for comment.

Twitter: @eriqgardner