Former “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown” director Jerry Kupcinet has filed suit against Michael Eisner and his Tornante Company alleging breach of contract and fraud over Kupcinet’s involvement and subsequent firing from the new show “Judge Faith.” He also names Trifecta Entertainment and its CEO Hank Cohen in the suit.
Kupcinet alleges that he was removed from the show he helped create and the breach of contract cost him substantial fees as both an executive producer and director for “Judge Faith.” Instead, he claims he and his Jerry Kupcinent Productions have received no compensation for the three months of work on the pilot.
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According to the legal filing, Cohen asked Kupcinet to produce and direct the pilot for “Judge Faith.” The suit alleges an oral agreement between the men, with Cohen acting on behalf of Trifecta Entertainment, with Kupcinet named an executive producer on the new show and its director should additional episodes be ordered.
He alleges that when he signed a very different written agreement with Trifecta, one which fails to mention any of the agreed-upon terms of the oral agreement, he was advised it was to show Trifecta’s ownership of the show, which was necessary to sell it.
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This misrepresentation of the meaning of the written document constitutes fraud, according to the document, as Trifecta failed to inform him that signing it would render the oral agreement he had established with Cohen null and void. Instead, Kupcinet alleges he was misled into believe the document was only about ownership of the show.
Kupcinet Production produced the pilot and covered the costs, according to the document. Once Tornante Company agreed to fund an additional 150 episodes of “Judge Faith” after seeing the pilot, Kupcinet alleges that he worked with Cohen and Eisner toward the production of those shows, and that the shooting schedule and budget sheets approved by the defendants listed Kupcinet as director and executive producer.
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It was Eisner, according to the document, who wanted Kupcinet out, and so Cohen allegedly advised him in May 2014 that he and Kupcinet Productions were no longer involved in “Judge Faith.” Subsequently, the show was picked up in syndication toward a nationwide launch.
Kupcinet is seeking compensation for his work on the show, as well as credit as an executive producer and director, and that a trust be imposed on all money wrongfully obtained by the defendants as a result of Kupcinet’s work on the “Judge Faith” pilot. He further asks that the written agreement be rescinded, as well as court costs and damages.
Kupcinet is represented by Neville L. Johnson, Douglas L. Johnson and Alyson C. Decker in the document filed with Los Angeles Superior Court on Sept. 22.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.