Action movie star Steven Seagal’s new reality television series has hit a legal snag in a dispute over the origination of the idea for the show.
In a federal lawsuit filed on Monday, A&E Television Networks has sued California-based Genuine over the production company’s claim that A&E stole the concept for the show after both parties had several meetings.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Genuine and the Idea Factory, Darryl Silver’s production company that develops and produces reality TV programs, filed a suit of their own. They’re suing Seagal, the actor’s production company Steamroller Productions, A&E TV Network, International Creative Management and Seagal’s ICM agent Nick Reed for fraud and breach of oral agreement.
The disputes revolve around the show "Steven Seagal: Lawman," which is currently slated to air on A&E later this year and includes segments depicting the actor’s life as a deputy sheriff in Lousiana. Seagal gained fame in the 1990s with starring roles in films like "Under Siege."
In the lawsuit A&E filed, the network says the idea for the upcoming show is different from ideas about a reality show involving Seagal suggested by Genuine during meetings in 2007.
But Genuine’s suit alleges that beginning in 2007, Seagal was introduced to Darryl Silver through Silver’s brother, Scott, to discuss the possibility of doing a reality show with the Idea Factory.
After the meeting, Silver’s company developed a number of different ideas for shows based around Seagal and when the two parties met they joined into an oral agreement stating that they planned to develop and co-produce his reality show together, sharing in executive producer and back-end fees.
During the meeting, Seagal also gave the Idea Factory exclusive rights to go out and "shop" the reality show to networks, the suit says.
But a few days after that discussion, Silver called up one of Seagal’s business partners at the actor’s production company who said he thought Seagal wouldn’t actually follow through with the show. Seagal assured Silver he was still interested in the show and urged Silver to call Seagal’s ICM agent, Nick Reed, to inform him of the plans.
Reed also told Silver he thought Seagal would never do the show, that reality TV would hurt Seagal’s career and that Silver was on a "fool’s errand," the suit says. Again, Seagal dismissed the skepticism and told Silver to move forward.
Meanwhile, VH-1, Court TV and A&E signaled interest in show ideas about contestants competing to become Seagal’s new protege and co-star and another about Seagal’s work as a sheriff’s deputy in New Orleans.
But during negotiations with A&E, Silver got wind that someone else was also pitching a show about Seagal to the network. The suit alleges that Silver pitched the idea about Seagal in New Orleans to the network and they liked it so much they "begged" to kill interest from the other networks and were prepared to offer the actor $200,000 per episode.
Then between May and June 2008, Silver discovered that production company Granada America (represented by ICM) was in pre-production on a reality show about Segal’s work in New Orleans. In November of last year, A&E publicly announced it was in production on "Steven Seagal: Lawman."
In its lawsuit, A&E says that after it discovered that Seagal had not agreed to only work in a show for Genuine, the cable TV network went after the star.