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Bickering at Studio Leads to Lawsuit

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A former film studio manager claims in court that an executive threatened to kill him for reporting sexual harassment, including an incident on the set of the sitcom "Love That Girl."

Norbet Pickett sued Hi Point Studios, Pit Bull Energy Product Inc., East Coast Foods, and Hip Hop Beverages, in Superior Court. Those are the only defendants, though the complaint is replete with names from the entertainment world.

Pickett claims that Hi Point Studios chief operating officer Prez Blackman went unpunished for sexually harassing a "Love That Girl" production assistant and a studio employee.

Pickett claims that Hi Point owner Herbert Hudson ignored Blackman's antics, and before firing Pickett, fired the studio employee who had complained.

Pickett claims that things came to head in September 2011, when actress and model K.D. Aubert visited the studio to audition. The complaint does not state which show she came to audition for, and she is not a party to the lawsuit.

"Plaintiff coordinated an audition for an actress, K.D. Aubert ('Aubert'), based on a recommendation by a mutual friend, Ralph Hawkins ('Hawkins')," the complaint states. "After the audition, Blackman cornered Aubert, where he attempted to kiss her and grab her buttocks. Aubert was able to escape from Blackman, and report his conduct to security. Aubert also called Hawkins, who in turn contacted plaintiff to complain about Blackman's actions."

Pickett claims that when he reported the incident to Hudson he was assured the studio owner "would address the issue."

"The following day, plaintiff attempted to report for work, but the security guard on duty, Oscar Garcia ('Garcia') refused plaintiff entry, saying he had been given instructions by Blackman," according to the complaint. "Pickett finally convinced Garcia to let him into the parking area. Immediately after parking, Blackman stormed out of the studio, screaming at plaintiff. Blackman yelled at plaintiff for being a 'snitch,' and repeatedly called plaintiff a 'fucker,' 'bitch' and 'pussy.' Blackman then challenged plaintiff to a fight, threw a drink at plaintiff, and threatened to 'blow [plaintiff's] head off.'" (Brackets in complaint.)

Pickett says he "genuinely" feared for his life because he knew that Blackman kept a gun. He says he made a hasty retreat to car.

Pickett claims he called the police, but Blackman had buddies on the police force, who arrived first.

"Plaintiff declined to press charges at the time, for fear of exacerbating the problems. Plaintiff still felt that Blackman was dangerous, so plaintiff left work, went home, and called Hudson. After explaining the situation, Hudson said he would 'take care of it,'" according to the complaint.

But the next day, Blackman again threatened to shoot Pickett after he arrived at work, according to the complaint. This time, Pickett claims, Hudson reprimanded the studio manager after he called police again.

"The next day, Hudson scheduled a meeting with himself, plaintiff, Blackman,

Garcia, and a company I.T. employee, Larry Witherspoon ('Witherspoon'). Hudson called the recent actions 'nonsense,' and said that the issues must stop. Blackman, however, blew-up in yet another tirade, screaming that he was going to 'get rid' of plaintiff. Hudson ignored Blackman's continued threats, and told plaintiff to go back to work," the complaint states.

Pickett says he won a reprieve when he left the studio to travel. But he says he was never paid for his work between September and October 2011 and was effectively fired.

He seeks unspecified compensatory, general damages, and costs.

He is represented by Pamela McKibbin Teren with the Teren Law Group of Redondo Beach.

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