Charlie Sheen's latest TV run is beginning much like his last one ended: With a big ol' legal embroilment.
Joe Roth, the producer of Sheen's upcoming FX sitcom "Anger Management," has filed a countersuit in response to consultant Jason Shuman's $50 million lawsuit, which claims that he's owed a big chunk of the series.
Shuman filed suit in April, claiming that he had developed the television adaptation of the 2003 Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson film, but was denied back-end ownership and credit on the series.
According to Shuman's breach of contract suit, Roth tapped him in 2008 to go through Revolution Studios' film catalog for titles that could be worked into adaptations and remakes. Shuman claims that Roth promised him a sweet deal, after getting shortchanged over developing the film "Are We There Yet" into a series.
However, rather than "make it up to" Shuman as he allegedly promised, the suit claims that Roth cut him out of the loop.
"[I]n June 2011, without warning or justification, Roth went silent and refused to answer any of Shuman's emails or take any of his telephone calls," Shuman's suit reads. Shuman claims that, after getting frozen out, he saw media reports that Roth was negotiating with Sheen to develop and star in the adaptation.
The counterclaim — which lists Roth's Revolution Studios Development Company as cross-complainant — alleges that Shuman, a producer with Blue Star Entertainment, was told in a Jan. 24, 2012 letter that his consulting agreement was being terminated.
It is uncertain how successful Roth's counterclaim will be. Though the agreement contained language that it could be terminated "at any time, with or without cause," by Jan. 24, the date of the letter, plans for a Sheen-starring "Anger Management" were well underway. In addition, Revolution acknowledged in the letter that the agreement would still apply to certain "Blue Star instigated projects" — including a TV adaptation of "Anger Management" — for a six-month period.
The clause cited in the termination letter notes that, in the event that, should one of the projects that Blue Star instigated be sold with Roth as a producer, and the acquiring party is unable or unwilling to enter separate deals with Roth and Blue Star, then the latter is entitled to a "set-up fee" equal to "25 percent of the option fees and (if applicable) purchase price actually received by Revolution for such … project, provided that no Set-up Fee shall exceed Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000)."
Which, granted, is a long way off from the $50 million that Shuman is asking for.
The cross-complaint notes that Shuman "contends that the Termination Notice is improper."
Shuman's attorney has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.
Roth is asking for a declaration that the consulting agreement has been terminated, according to the terms laid out in the letter, plus suit costs, attorneys' fees, and "such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper."
"Anger Management" will premiere June 28 on FX.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.