The Gotham Group says after more than a decade of loyal services, Kapnek left the minute she signed a rich deal with Warner Bros.
The Gotham Group has sued former client Emily Kapnek, creator of “Suburgatory” and a writer and producer on several shows including “Hung” and “Parks and Recreation,” claiming that after loyally managing her career for more than 10 years, she tried to bail the minute she made her first big TV deal – all to avoid paying commission.
Filed Tuesday in Superior Court in Los Angeles, the Gotham Group’s lawsuit says its principal and majority owner, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, took on the novice animation writer’s career in 1998. The filing details a highly personal connection between the two women over the years, as well as the Gotham Group’s steadying influence on Kapnek’s rise to prominence.
While Kapnek “hired and fired a series of Hollywood agents” for more than a decade, Gotham Group says they “have, without interruption, performed management services for Kapnek and her company Piece of Pie Productions.
“When Kapnek needed money, plaintiffs advanced it … when Kapnek needed emotional support, advice or assistance … plaintiffs provided it.”
Gotham Group says Kapnek dutifully paid her 10% through her many stops along the way: she wrote several episodes of “Aliens in America,” created the ABC series “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” and the Nickelodeon ‘toon “As Told By Ginger,” and later wrote episodes for NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and HBO’s “Hung.”
But it was earlier this year when the relationship went sour, according to the filing, “in a display of disloyalty more readily found in a televisions script than in a real life relationship and friendship.”
Working only with her agency UTA and attorney James Mandelbaum, Kapnek finalized an exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Television in April, two years after her show “Suburgatory,” developed with Warners, took off on ABC (it was renewed for a third season in May).
Immediately after that, Gotham Group says, she severed ties to her longtime management company.
“Kapnek did this for a simple reason: money,” the lawsuit states. “In firing plaintiffs immediately after inking her deal with Warner Brothers, Kapnek sought to evade her legal obligations to pay.”
Gotham says Kapnek “broke her word and the parties’ contract. … In direct violation of the Gotham Management Agreement and her promise to plaintiffs,” and has failed to make commission payments since.
The lawsuit allges counts of breach of oral contract and fraud, seeks declaratory relief and seeks an undisclosed amount of both compensatory and punitive damages.
Representatives for Kapnek reached by TheWrap did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.