Hell hath no fury like a showrunner scorned. Frank Darabont, the man who developed AMC's uber popular adaptation of Robert Kirkman's 'The Walking Dead' comic books, is suing the network for what he believes to be his rightful share of the series' current and future profits.
Darabont (along with CAA, the agency that represents him) filed the lawsuit today, alleging that AMC has used unfair accounting practices to get around paying him what they owe. One of those practices is called "self-dealing," in which a television network that both produces and airs a given show decides to charge itself an abnormally low licensing fee per episode. Due to the way contracts like Darabont's are written, this leads to a massive reduction or outright elimination of backend profits for the actors, directors, writers and such that work on shows that subsequently become big hits.
Darabont also posits that AMC originally indicated that an outside company would be producing 'The Walking Dead,' before changing their minds and producing it themselves after the profit terms of his contract had already been agreed to. Darabont only agreed to sign on the dotted line once assurances had been made by AMC. To this day, Darabont claims to have not received one dollar in profits, despite 'TWD's status as the highest rated scripted show in all of television.
This type of lawsuit is nothing new. David Duchovny filed a similar suit against 20th Century FOX over his share of 'The X-Files' profits, as did the creators of 'Smallville' against Warner Bros. Upping the ante in Darabont's case is the fact that he was unceremoniously fired shortly into the production of 'The Walking Dead's successful second season, a termination that Darabont claims was unwarranted.
AMC has thus far declined to comment on the suit, or Darabont's accusations. If history is anything to go by, Frank will eventually receive an out-of-court settlement worth lots and lots of money. TV networks aren't fond of their business practices being publicly or legally scrutinized.