'The Wonder Years' Lawsuit Claims Fox Stiffed Executive on Bonuses (Exclusive)

Wonder Years - TV Still: Fred Savage, Danica McKellar and Josh Saviano - P - 1988
New World Television

A new lawsuit shows how Hollywood executives can make a lot of money in the television business.

Edward Gradinger, former president of New World Pictures, which produced the hit 1988-93 dramedy The Wonder Years, sued New World's successor Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. on Wednesday claiming the studio owes him unpaid bonuses associated with the show's most recent run in syndication.

Gradinger was president of the television group at New World when it launched Wonder Years on ABC, and as part of his deal, he claims he was awarded certain "bonuses" for shows that were produced and distributed at least 66 episodes while he was president. The deal was amended, but it basically gave Gradinger a gift that kept on giving as long as Wonder Years remained popular in syndication.

It did, and Gradinger alleges in the suit that over the years, as Wonder Years was sold to such networks as Nickelodeon and ABC Family, Fox (which had purchased New World) repeatedly acknowledged his right to a bonus and paid him. But when the series was sold in 2010 to cable net The Hub, Fox allegedly refused to pay.

"After having admitted its contractual obligation to pay bonuses to Mr. Gradinger, and having actually paid these bonuses for over ten years, Fox has decided simply not to live up to its agreement,” the complaint says.

Damages are not specified. The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Larry Feldman and Joshua Stambaugh at Kaye Scholer in Los Angeles, alleges causes of action for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

We’ve reached out to Fox for comment and will update with a response. UPDATE: Fox declined to comment.

Email: Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

Twitter: @THRMattBelloni