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Warner Bros. TV will investigate allegations of abusive behavior made against Black Lightning and Love Is executive producer Salim Akil.
The Hollywood Reporter learned Friday that the studio will interview cast and crew members of the two shows after Akil was sued for domestic violence and breach of contract by actress and writer Amber Dixon Brenner.
On Sunday, Akil denied the allegations through his attorney, Stephen D. Barnes.
“These allegations are deeply upsetting — but they are also totally untrue,” Barnes said in a statement. “We will defend Salim to the fullest against the false and offensive claims that a woman with whom he had a past relationship has included in multiple unsubstantiated lawsuits. Salim looks forward to clearing his name and to being able to focus on his work and his family.”
Warner Bros. declined comment.
The allegations against Akil do not include any instances of on-set problems; Brenner claims in the lawsuit that she and Akil had a long-term affair in which he hit her and forced her to perform oral sex on numerous occasions. To ensure the safety of cast and crew, however, Warner Bros. has opened an inquiry into Akil’s behavior.
Brenner’s suit also claims Love Is, which airs on OWN, lifted ideas from a screenplay of hers titled Luv & Perversity in the East Village and is based on her and Akil’s relationship. The script centers on a “young, attractive, black entertainment professional, who falls in love with a dominant and aggressive man who turns her life upside down.”
Brenner also filed a federal copyright-infringement lawsuit in October against Akil, his wife and co-creator Mara Brock Akil and OWN. That complaint alleges the Akil stole her idea and used it as the basis for Love Is. The couple have said the series is based loosely on their own relationship.
Akil is the second showrunner in WBTV and The CW’s Greg Berlanti-created DC Comics universe to face misconduct allegations. A year ago, the studio fired Supergirl showrunner Andrew Kreisberg following a suspension and investigation into multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Nineteen men and women, all of whom chose to remain anonymous, came forward to accuse the exec producer of sexual misconduct, including inappropriate touching, which took place over several years. Many were current or former employees of the shows Kreisberg executive produced. He allegedly touched people and kissed women without consent and asked for massages from female staff.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil executive produce Black Lightning, currently in its second season on The CW. Love Is premiered in June on OWN and has been renewed for a second season.
Updated 3:09 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2: Added statement from Akil’s attorney.
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