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Warner Bros. TV Partially Settles ‘Smallville’ Lawsuit Over Vertical Integration Issues

"Smallville" executive producers claimed that Warner Bros. Television had engaged in "self-dealing" to benefit parent company Time Warner

A lawsuit filed by the writers and executive producers of the hit series "Smallville" against Warner Bros. Television and various other Time Warner entities has been partially settled, a spokesman for Warner Bros. Television told TheWrap on Thursday.

Warner Bros. Television has reached a settlement agreement with "Smallville" executive producers Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and their Tollin/Robbins Productions, the spokesman said.

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However, the claims by "Smallville" writers/executive producers Miles Milllar and Alfred Gough still remain. Those claims have been set for trial on June 10.

In the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2010, Tollin, Robbins, Millar and Gough claimed that they had been deprived of tens of millions of dollars of profit from the series, which ran from 2001 to 2011 on the WB and, later the CW.

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The plaintiffs alleged that "vertical integration" of media companies — when one umbrella company controls the production, creation and distribution of content — was to blame for the alleged losses. According to the complaint, Warner Bros. Television engaged in "self-dealing" by "systematically short-changing" the show at the expense of the plaintiffs but to the benefit of parent company Time Warner. (In this case, Time Warner also controlled the rights to the Superman character, who the series was based on through its ownership of DC Comics.)

Time Warner, Warner Bros. Entertainment, the CW, WB Communications, and the WB Television Network Partners were also named in the suit.

The suit alleged that Warner Bros. Television licensed the program to its affiliate companies for an amount less than the show could have fetched, starting with the placement of the series with the Time Warner Bros.-owned WB, when "it should have licensed the Series to a major network, where the Series would have benefited from a major network's marketing resources and audience share and would have earned larger license fees for Warner Bros. Television, higher ratings, greater public awareness, and increased syndication revenues."

The complaint also claimed that Warner Bros. Television sold "Smallville" in foreign markets as part of a package with less-successful shows, further devaluing the series, among other allegations.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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