$4 Million Fight Over French Crime Drama

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A French company claims in court that a U.S. TV network backed out on a deal to pay $4 million to help bring a French police procedural TV show to the United States.
     Check out Courthouse News’ Entertainment Law Digest.
     Atlantique Productions claims Florida-based ION Media Networks promised it $4 million for rights to the French crime drama tentatively titled “Le Grand.”
     “The series, an English-language police procedural set in Paris, France, is helmed by Emmy-winning showrunner René Balcer and stars legendary French actor Jean Reno as a tough elite cop who stops at nothing to solve mysterious murder cases,” Atlantique says in its federal complaint.
     It claims that ION agreed to pay a $4 million licensing fee, then “refus(ed) to live up to its contractual obligations, right in the middle of production of the series – leaving plaintiff scrambling to find funding so that it can complete production of the series on schedule and meet its contractual delivery obligations to other licensees in connection with the series.”
     Atlantique claims that ION promised in July this year to pay a $4 million licensing fee for the first eight episodes, up to six additional seasons, and exclusive U.S. ownership and distribution rights to “Le Grand.” It claims that ION sent a representative to the set to watch and comment, but when Atlantique sent its first three invoices, ION “apparently got cold feet” and refused to pay.
     At first, ION “cited only certain creative concerns about the series – i.e., the intelligibility of the lead actor’s accent,” to justify its failure to pay the invoices, Atlantique says in the complaint.
     But when Atlantique demanded payment, ION “took the position for the first time – on September 25, 2012, more than two months after entering into the agreement – that, in fact, there was no agreement between the parties with respect to the series,” according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff seeks at least $4 million in compensatory damages for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, and unjust enrichment.
     It is represented by Bonnie Eskenazi with Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger.

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