Wednesday, December 18, 2002
New York Liza Minnelli and her husband, David Gest, have filed a $23 million lawsuit against cable television network VH1 and others for dropping plans to air a reality show that centered on their lives.
The couple's court papers say they contracted in July to shoot 10 one-hour episodes, which were to air on VH1, for $1.25 million. But in October, after filming more than 60 hours of the couple's personal and professional lives, the defendants "abruptly and unlawfully terminated the contract," court papers allege.
The couple received a $100,000 advance for doing the show, which was to have the same spontaneous feel as "The Osbournes," the MTV reality program that features middle-aged rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his family. No Minnelli-Gest episodes have aired.
The couple's lawyer, Michael Sherman, refused to say what he was told about why VH1 shelved the program. However, the court papers say published reports quoted officials at VH1's parent, Viacom, as saying Gest was "impossible to work with," "a control freak" and "almost insane."
The lawsuit, filed Monday in New York, names as defendants Remote Productions Inc., the company that was contracted to produce and film the show, and Viacom and its subsidiaries, MTV Networks and VH1.
Minnelli and Gest accuse all the defendants of breach of contract and Viacom and its companies specifically of defamation and slander.
Sherman, who represented Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel at his Connecticut murder trial, said the lawsuit seeks the $1.15 million balance due on the television contract and $22 million in compensatory and punitive damages.