Judge Judy Slaps Talent Agency With $22 Million Suit Over Series Profits

Judge Judy Sheindlin at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012. (By David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0, Link)

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Daytime TV reality star “Judge Judy” Sheindlin filed a $22 million lawsuit against a talent agency in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday, claiming the agency and its chief agent have collected syndication fees from her series over the last 24 years even though they had no part in the show’s success.

Sheindlin, who presides over her daytime arbitration-style courtroom series, calls Richard Lawrence “an unethical and self-dealing talent agent, and one of the luckiest men in the world,” according to her complaint.

Originally a New York family court judge in the 1980s and in 1993, Sheindlin caught the attention of producers Kaye Switzer and Sandi Spreckman after a “60 Minutes” profile showcased her quick-witted style in the courtroom. The two went on to create the series with Sheindlin, but she argues Lawrence only briefly represented the producers and never represented a package deal on the series.

In Hollywood terminology, packaging has to do with proposals made to TV studios and in those arrangements, agencies collect a fee for putting together those deals.

Sheindlin says Rebel Entertainment Partners have collected fees made from the syndication of “Judge Judy” over the last 24 years. She says they are not entitled to collect “one penny of fees” because the agency did not represent a package deal.

According to the complaint, Rebel Entertainment, successor to Abrams Rubaloff & Lawrence, have collected $22 million in fees “effectively stealing from the series’ bona fide profit participants, including Sheindlin.”

And Sheindlin says she’s not suing for the money.

“Sheindlin does not seek to profit from this action personally, and will donate any net proceeds she receives from an award to the charity Stand Up To Cancer,” according to the complaint. “Sheindlin’s rights are violated each and every time the fees are deducted from her share” of the series adjusted gross receipts, according to the complaint.

She claims whatever fees have been collected from the series’ syndicator, Big Ticket Television, are “lacking in consideration, unconscionable, unlawful, voice and unenforceable.”

Sheindlin is represented by Martin Singer of Lavely and Singer.

“Judge Judy” began its 25th season this year, which Sheindlin said would be her last.

Earlier this month, Rebel Entertainment sued Big Ticket, CBS Studios, Sheindlin and others claiming the talent agency was owed some percentage if any episodes of “Judge Judy” were sold.

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