In a suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the “Being Mary Jane” star claims the network is attempting to combine seasons four and five of the drama into one 20-episode season in a ploy to shortchange her by extending the length of the season beyond the terms of her deal.
“Although BET represented and assured Miss Union before she agreed to perform in ‘Being Mary Jane’ that it would never produce more than thirteen (13) episodes per season of the series, BET now wants to shoot twenty (20) episodes of the series back-to-back and cram all of the episodes into a single season in order to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union’s contract,” the complaint said.
The actress is suing the network for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, and is asking to be awarded as much as $1 million.
“While we hold Gabrielle Union in the highest esteem, we feel strongly that we are contractually well within our rights and are committed to reaching a swift and positive resolution in this matter,” the network said in a statement.
Union claimed that when she signed on to the series, she was told she would appear in between 10 and 13 episodes per season, with CEO Debra Lee assuring her she’d appear in no more than that amount.
Under the terms of her deal, BET had the option to extend Union’s employment for four additional seasons beyond the first, with the actress to receive $150,000 per episode for the first four seasons, and $165,000 per episode for a fifth season.
“It is outrageous that BET would treat one of its biggest stars in this manner after all she has done to support the network and contribute its success,” the complaint says.
Union, who became a star in teenage movies like 1999’s “She’s All That” and 2000’s “Bring It On,” recently won raves for her work in Nate Parker’s acclaimed antebellum drama “The Birth of a Nation.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.
13 New Fall TV Shows, Ranked From Best to Worst by Critics (Photos)
Critics are sorting the good from the bad of the new fall TV season. Here's a ranking, using scores (based on a 100-point scale) from the aggregation site Metacritic.
"Luke Cage" (Netflix) -81
Yes, another superhero franchise. But critics are crazy about this comic caper. "A breakthrough for Marvel," wrote one.
"This Is Us" (NBC) – 76
NBC's contemporary drama already has big fans among critics. "These characters feel real," one reviewer wrote.
"Speechless" (ABC) – 75 (tie)
Reviewers are pretty high on this family sitcom. "'Speechless' is a wry, nimble comedy," according to one.
"The Good Place" (NBC) – 75 (tie)
Celestial reviews for this comedy about Kristin Bell finding herself in heaven. "A gem of subversive mockery," a critic wrote.
"Designated Survivor"/ABC – 74
"The pilot is tremendous," one reviewer raved of this political drama about Kiefer Sutherland suddenly elevated to the presidency after a terror attack.
"Pitch"/Fox – 61
Lots of praise for star Kylie Bunbury, but some criticism of the scripting in this baseball drama. "The writers telegraph every single point," one reviewer complained.
"The Exorcist" (Fox) – 58
Mixed views on this remake of the horror classic, with one critic dubbing it "predictable" but still "a solid piece of entertainment."
"Son of Zorn" (Fox) – 56
"Most of the jokes are amusing but only a couple got big laughs," one reviewer wrote of this animated/live action hybrid.
"Bull" (CBS) – 47
Praise for former "NCIS" star Michael Weatherly in this legal procedural, but less warmth for the show itself. "Totally ridiculous, in concept and execution," one reviewer wrote.
"Lethal Weapon" (Fox) – 45
"This is a slick, watered-down" version of the movie franchise, one critic summed up, in a common sentiment.
"MacGyver" (CBS) – 44
Divided opinion on this update of the 1980s action classic. One critic dubbed it "energetic" and "easy-going," another felt it was "painfully cheesy."
"Kevin Can Wait" (CBS) – 40
Kevin will have to wait for love for this traditional family sitcom. "Terrible and unimaginative," blasted one critic, echoing the prevailing view.
"Notorious" (ABC) – 21
Oof. "A nearly wall-to-wall mess," is how one reviewer summed up this legal drama.