"Hannah Montana" creators sue Disney for profits

Fri Apr 9, 2010 9:25pm EDT
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Two of the creators of Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" franchise have sued the network for more than $5 million in profits from the show.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, series co-creators Barry O'Brien and Richard Correll say they've been denied their fair share of the hugely successful Miley Cyrus series.

O'Brien and Correll created the show with Michael Poryes in 2005. They now say they're owed millions in pre-negotiated percentage-based bonuses based on their back-end deals and Writers Guild of America requirements for writers who receive "created by" credits. The duo claim Disney has denied repeated requests for payment and thwarted attempts to audit profits from the show.

Correll, a prolific TV director, also claims he was wrongfully terminated from the show and "blackballed" from future directing gigs by Disney.

A Disney spokesperson said the company is declining to comment on the suit.

O'Brien and Correll also are fighting Disney in a WGA arbitration over the studio's obligations to them "under certain provisions of the WGA Agreement with respect to the series," the complaint says. Those issues are not specified, though Correll says he was terminated by Disney after testifying in connection with the arbitration.

Correll believes "the real reason for Defendants' termination and blackballing of Correll was Disney's desire to retaliate" against him "for a) seeking compensation owing to Correll" and O'Brien and "b) their testimony against Disney in the WGA Arbitration," according to the complaint.

Defendants are Walt Disney Pictures, ABC Cable Networks Group, Disney Channel, producers Bigwood Films, Fuss Budget Films, Silver Creek Pictures and It's a Laugh Prods.

Poryes, the third "Hannah" creator, sued Disney on similar grounds in October 2008.

The new lawsuit, filed by Robert Nau of Los Angeles firm Alexander Nau Lawrence Frumes & Labowitz, claims damages of at least $5 million on causes of action for breach of contract, accounting and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.