The already-troubled acquisition of The Weinstein Co. and its assets by private equity firm Lantern Capital is facing another bump in the road: a $110 million lawsuit.
In a suit filed against Lantern on Monday, Marvin Peart, an executive producer on TWC’s “Mob Wives,” says that he helped orchestrate the deal for Lantern to buy TWC, for which he says Lantern agreed to pay him $10.5 million, and give him a seat on the new TWC board of directors. Peart says that Lantern reneged on its agreement with him after the deal was reached, and that it did so in part because he is African-American.
His lawsuit accuses the Dallas-based firm of breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation and institutional racism.
“Peart matched entertainment industry newcomer Lantern Capital with TWC by leveraging his credibility and relationship with senior TWC executives, negotiating terms and keeping the process on track,” says the suit. “To the plaintiff’s amazement, Lantern reneged. Lantern is attempting to write him completely out of the story of how a Hollywood outsider landed the biggest entertainment deal of the year.
“What happened to the plaintiff is not just a matter of damages for breach of contract. It is far more insidious. Peart is the latest striving African-American who has been cheated out of his hard-won right to occupy the winner’s circle because of his race,” Peart’s lawsuit continues. “If slavery is the original sin of American history, its vestiges institutional racism in virtually every sector of our daily lives. Nowhere is this more glaring than in the entertainment industry.”
Peart is demanding $110 million for what he says is the income he would have earned over 25 years due to favorable media attention and recognition, combined with the $10.5 million he says Lantern promised.
Lantern declined to comment for this story.
While it’s unclear whether Peart’s lawsuit may prevent the deal from continuing to move forward, it comes at a critical time, as Lantern and TWC try to complete a sale that was initially expected to close by the end of June.
Lantern reached a stalking-horse agreement with TWC in March, and has agreed to keep the studio’s employees on as a “going concern.” The court ruled in favor of Lantern’s bid in May after no other significant bids materialized.
The two sides have been arguing for months over the value of the studio’s unreleased projects, library of films and reimbursement of involved parties. But they agreed in June to drop the price of the deal to $287 million from $310 million, in order to complete the deal before their mid-July Delaware court date, when Lantern’s financing commitment ends and TWC will default on its loan agreement.