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Rolled in Reality, TV Producers Say

LOS ANGELES (CN) - The producer of a "reality" TV show involving baseball stars sued a brand integration firm for $3 million, claiming the defendant failed to deliver a "single sponsorship dollar" for the show.

Holding company America's Greatest Athlete dba AGA Sports Entrainment and affiliates sued Brand-In Entertainment and its principal Rolfe Auerbach, alleging negligence, fraud, breach of contract and other counts, in Superior Court.

According to the 30-page complaint, Auerbach and Brand-In "held themselves out as industry experts," falsely representing they could deliver sponsorship for a reality show, "Players Club," from Nestle Waters, Nestle Bars, Dick's Sporting Goods, Quiznos, Bikram Yoga, and others.

But when the show was broadcast on CBS Sports in May 2012, not one of those sponsors had committed a dime, AGA claims, leaving the producers with a $1.45 million tab.

AGA originally intended to use football players, then basketball stars, for a "multi-event sports competition special," but they eventually used a cast that included retired baseball players Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith and Bo Jackson.

AGA claims it shifted to baseball stars because Auerbach said it would be tough for him to pull off sponsorship deals for a Christmas Day time slot featuring basketball players.

After Auerbach persuaded the producers to push for a later date, CBS settled on a slot for April 2012, AGA claims.

"However, throughout the entire time that AGA Sports had entrusted defendants with the rights to secure sponsorship and advertising for its sports special - from approximately September 2011 through May 2012 - defendants failed to secure a single significant sponsor or advertiser for 'The Players Club,'" the complaint states.

Auerbach told AGA he had "secured and 'locked in,'" the sponsorship deals, but he hadn't, AGA claims.

Auerbach, who was promised 25 percent commission and was paid $60,000 for his work on two previous reality shows, claimed he could secure $2 million in funding from Nestle and Bikram, and $1 million from other sponsors, according to the complaint.

The producers claim they "refrained from seeking alternative sources of funding from other advertisers," due to Auerbach's promises.

"When defendants' misrepresentations and broken promises were uncovered, it was much too late in the development of the television show to mitigate the damage already caused," the complaint states.

An audience of 1 million tuned in to the "Players Club" on May 6, 2012. But despite improving on ratings for a show aired in the same slot the previous year, AGA says "Players Club" was a "colossal financial and reputational loss for plaintiffs in all material respects."

"In the end, from start to finish, and in direct contravention with [sic] their representations, promises, and inducements, defendants never secured a single sponsorship dollar for plaintiffs and their television show," the complaint states.

Joining as plaintiffs are Baseball - Players Club and Wesley Morris Entertainment.

The plaintiffs seek $3 million in damages minus defendants' $750,000 commission.

They are represented by Neal Salisian with Salisian | Lee.

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