Keith Olbermann has sued Current TV, alleging that his former employer violated his contract and tried to sabotage his career
Keith Olbermann has filed a lawsuit against Current TV, accusing the cable network of "bad faith termination" and breach of contract. The disgruntled former anchor, who has had a tempetuous run at previous networks, is seeking between $50 million to $70 million he claims is still owed him by Current.
The suit, filed Thursday in a Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses Current co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt of being "dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives" and the network's management of "increasingly erratic and unprofessional actions."
Also read: Keith Olbermann Fired by Current TV
The suit cites myriad ways that Current breached Olbermann's contract, including denying him contractually obligated editorial control, disclosing confidential terms of said contract, disparaging Olbermann publically and "refusing to invest resources and hire appropriate personnel in order to professionally and competently produce the program."
Olbermann blames Current's technical failings for the "precipitous decline in ratings" for "Countdown" since it left MSNBC. The suite alleges that Olbermann raised these issues and cites emails from network president David Bohrman in which he admits to the poor quality of Olbermann's studio.
Current is likely to file a countersuit as soon as tonight or tomorrow morning accusing Olbermann of breaching his own contract.
"Current terminated Keith Olbermann last Thursday for serial, material breaches of his contract, including the failure to show up at work, sabotaging the network and attacking Current and its executives," Chris Lehane said on behalf of Current.
The statement said that the facts are on Current's side and accuses Olbermann of just "pounding the table." It also adds this little dig: "We hope Mr. Olbermann understands that when it comes to the legal process, he is actually required to show up."
The legal action has been expected ever since Current fired Olbermann last Thursday; both Olbermann and his attorney, Patricia Glaser, vowed that a lawsuit was coming.
Last week, Olbermann accused Current of finding an economical way to get out of his $50 million contract "instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program." He also lashed out on Twitter at network claims about his work habits.
When Current fired Olbermann, it indicated that the termination was lawful because he had missed so many work days. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, Olbermann missed 19 of 41 work days between January and February.
In the suit, Olbermann's attorneys dismiss these claims, arguing that Current is actually only alleging Olbermann has two unauthorized absences and that Current "is now allowed to retroactively disapprove vacation."
Olbermann's harshest words are reserved for Hyatt and Bohrman, both of whom the suit accuses of being unfit to run a cable network.
The suit also makes some odd remarks about Hyatt, alleging that he courted Olbermann and sought to separate him from his professional representatives. Hyatt then sought retribution when Olbermann did not reciprocate, denying him editorial control, using Olbermann's likeness in advertisements without his approval and so on.
The Current-Olbermann feud first got national attention when Olbermann did not take part in Current’s election specials. Olbermann felt he was entitled to complete editorial control. He wanted to do a traditional “Countdown” show and serve as the lone anchor.
Current was interested in integrating its new prime-time hosts and Gore into the mix.
Earlier this week, Olbermann appeared on "Late Night With David Letterman," where he compared himself to a $10 million chandelier. Current, he suggested, was an empty lot with nowhere to hang one.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.