WASHINGTON (CN) – MSNBC talking head Ed Schultz has been sued by his former agent, who claims he got Schultz his national TV show, only to see Schultz walk away from his contract after the agent had shelled out $11,500 of his own money to fund the pilot for “The Ed Show.”
Michael Queen sued Schultz in Federal Court.
Queen claims that he spent his own money and pitched the show to NBC, Fox, MSNBC and CNN, based on Schultz’s promise of a partnership, but when MSNBC executive Phil Griffin called Schultz directly to offer him a show, Schultz ditched Queen without paying his expenses or commissions from the show.
“To date, Schultz has refused to compensate Queen with a percentage of the income that Queen is entitled to as part owner of the show and as an agent for Schultz,” the complaint states.
Queen, of Maryland, says that Schultz, of Minnesota, was a nationally syndicated talk radio host whom he hadn’t yet met when he pitched the show to NBC News’ then-Vice President Tim Russert.
Russert agreed to let Queen shop the show around, though NBC had first right of refusal, during which time Queen says he “repeatedly asked Schultz to execute a contract, but Schultz made excuses to delay signing a contract.”
Queen claims Schultz told him in an e-mail that “any TV deal will obviously involve you. I will not do a TV deal without your involvement and that includes a financial involvement. Rest assured we are together on this.”
But Queen says that after he spent $11,500 of his own money to fund a pilot for the show for NBC and began shopping it around the industry, MSNBC, which had turned down the show the year before, contacted Schultz directly and hired him for “The Ed Show.”
“Almost immediately after Schultz entered into an agreement with MSNBC, Schultz virtually ceased contact with Queen and would not respond to Queen’s repeated inquiries about compensation as part owner of ‘The Ed Show’ and for his outstanding expense bills,” according to the complaint.
Queen claims that Schultz’s lawyer had the brass to respond to Queen’s request for fair treatment by writing “that he would advise his clients to seek ‘judicial relief from your harassment including a prayer for related fees and costs,’ in an attempt to intimidate Queen from seeking compensation due to him.”
Queen also claims that MSNBC ordered Schultz to pay him $12,000 for the pilot, and that “Schultz issued a personal check to Queen for 412,000 as partial payments for the expenses incurred in producing the pilot of ‘The Ed Show.'” But, he adds, “To date, Schultz has refused to compensate Queen with a percentage of the income that Queen is entitled to as part owner of the show and as an agent for Schultz.”
Queen seeks punitive damages for fraud, interference, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress.
He is represented by Mark Lane of Charlottesville, Va.