Minnelli, Husband Sue VH1 For $23 Million
Veteran entertainer Liza Minnelli and her husband, David Gest, have filed a $23 million lawsuit against VH1 and others for dropping plans to air a reality show 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 the cable music channel, 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 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. An MTV Networks representative yesterday (Dec. 17) said no one at any of the companies would be available to comment before today.
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. At the time, VH1 complained that Gest was difficult to work with. "We weren't given the kind of access and cooperation we needed to make the show work," a VH1 spokesperson said in October.
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.