The former leader of ABC’s cancelled Commander in Chief series is suing his former bosses at Touchstone TV for at least $1 million.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Chief creator Rod Lurie and his Chariot Productions company claim that Touchstone used the writers strike to stop paying on a contract deal stemming from the 2005 Geena Davis series. Lurie was replaced as a showrunner on Chief, reportedly after overruns in the show’s budget and schedule. Veteran producer Steven Bochco was brought in to replace him but he was ultimately replaced himself by Dee Johnson. Though the series had a strong start, the backstage problems caused delays in production and many audience members ultimately gave up on the series or just forgot about it.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lurie’s contract was reportedly reworked following his Chief removal to include a two-year extension. As part of the deal, in he remained an executive producer on the series, would receive $3 million in weekly installments, and was given an overhead allowance of $100,000 until June 2008. As part of the deal, Lurie agreed to develop and write projects exclusively for Touchtone.
During the recent writers strike, many studios invoked a “force majeure” contract provision. The standard clause essentially allowed them to cancel a contract if work could not be performed due to an extraordinary event or circumstance — in this case, the writers strike.