Here’s a case that would make for an intriguing episode of “Judge Judy” — if the judge herself wasn’t at the center of it.
Big Ticket Television and CBS are striking back at a lawsuit filed by an agent who claims that he’s owed money from the courtroom show, and the claims made in this latest round are pretty explosive.
In their answer to Rebel Entertainment’s lawsuit, Big Ticket, CBS Studios and CBS Corporation claim that Rebel’s principal, Richard Lawrence, fraudulently claimed to represent Judge Judge, whose real name is Judith Sheindlin, and has been collecting millions of dollars for nothing.
The answer claims that producers Sandi Spreckman and Kaye Switzer brought the idea of a show revolving around Sheindlin to the judge after watching a “60 Minutes” segment on her. Sheindlin agreed to pursue a project with the pair, the papers, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday claim, after which Lawrence agreed to serve as an agent for Spreckman and Switzer.
Sheindlin herself refused to be represented by Lawrence, the new papers claim. However, according to Big Ticket and CBS, that didn’t stop Lawrence from pitching the project to Big Ticket, despite the fact that he “did not disclose that he did not represent Judge Sheindlin in connection with the Project.”
Big Ticket bit on the project, and agreed to pay Lawrence’s agency 3 percent of the production budget for every episode of “Judge Judy” and percent of Big Ticket’s “defined proceeds,” Friday’s answer to the lawsuit states.
The suit also claims that Lawrence has been unjustly receiving commissions for “packaging services,” even though Spreckman and Switzer were fired from the show shortly after it started.
“Seen another way, the only ‘value’ Lawrence brought to the show was two producers who were fired during the first season, and yet Lawrence and [his agency] ARL continued to collect package commissions based on that supposed value for over 20 years to the tune of approximately $17 million,” the answer reads.
Lawrence’s Rebel Entertainment filed suit in March, claiming that Sheindlin’s compensation is cutting into profits owed to his company.
Sheindlin herself has dismissed his claims as “hilarious.”
“I met Mr. Lawrence for two hours some twenty-one years ago. Neither I nor anyone involved in the day-to-day production of my program has heard from him in 20 years. Not a card, not a gift, not a flower, not a congratulations,” Sheindlin told TheWrap in a statement last month.