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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ousted Worldview Exec Returns Fire in Court

MANHATTAN (CN) - The founder of Worldview Entertainment - the indie production company behind the buzzed-about Michael Keaton flick "Birdman" - returned fire Wednesday over his recent ouster.

Worldview took the first shot on Oct. 10 with a lawsuit in New York County Supreme Court that accused Christopher Woodrow of double-billing, embezzling at least $700,000 through doctored expense reports, giving himself unauthorized loans totaling $275,000, and using a company credit card for personal expenses for things like "meals, soaps, phone accessories, jewelry, dry cleaning, medical care, luggage, shoes and lodging."

His actions left the company "impoverished and imperiled," Worldview said. It attributed Woodrow's firing to his unauthorized management deal with Worldview's former chief financial officer Hoyt David Morgan.

While Morgan claimed in a July lawsuit that Worldview owes $1.7 million for his equity investments, Woodrow calculated his damages by Worldview at $55 million in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

"The allegations by defendants have never been substantiated despite due demand," Woodrow's complaint states.

Woodrow, who co-founded the production company in 2007, claims that on May 27 he was suddenly denied access to his own company's offices in Midtown Manhattan.

Former Worldview colleagues meanwhile have allegedly refused to return the "unique" personal items that he kept in his office and a safe, according to the complaint.

Efforts to discern the nature of those items were unsuccessful at press time.

Woodrow takes credit for securing $125 million in backing for such upcoming films like "Child 44," "Triple Nine," and an untitled drama with Warren Beatty, but says the company has wrongly stripped him of his executive producer credits.

Within a month of Woodrow's allegedly unlawful suspension, his fellow movie execs accessed his personal email account at least 108 times, violating his "reasonable expectation of privacy," according to the complaint.

Woodrow also complains that his pay was unfairly suspended for 30 days after his ouster, and that he's owed a scheduled bonus.

Worldview backed more than 20 movies with Woodrow at the helm, he says, adding that two of the films premiered at Sundance and one at Cannes, just this year.

Woodrow wants his stuff back, and his movie credits restored. He is represented by Joseph Paykin with Paykin, Krieg and Adams.

Aside from Worldview, Woodrow named as defendants co-founder Maria Cestone, Prospect Point Capital LLC; Roseland Ventures; Sarah Johnson; and Molly Conners.

Worldview, meanwhile, seeks unspecified damages for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting in its complaint.

Worldview is represented by Matthew Quinn with Quinn McCabe.

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