Talent agent sues CBS over 'Five-0' dispute
George Litto, who was the talent agent for “Hawaii Five-0” creator Leonard Freeman, has filed a lawsuit seeking profits from the CBS reboot, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Litto, who represented Freeman, (who was a writer-producer of the original "Five-0" starring Jack Lord) also attempted to do a movie version of the set-in-Hawaii detective series. Litto is seeking profits from the new CBS series plus $10 million in punitive damages, alleging he has been eliminated from the profits ledger.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to the trade magazine. An insider close to Litto said the suit is not targeting the reboot “Five-0” but is primarily aimed at the network.
The original “Five-0” was a CBS staple from 1968 to 1980, the first-ever series filmed entirely in Hawaii. Freeman and his wife Rose Freeman were devoted Island fans; the producer died in 1974 from a hearty bypass surgery and his widow died in March of 2012.
Litto’s agency had negotiated a deal on behalf of Freeman and negotiated an amendment to the contract on behalf of the widow and the trusts that were set up. For this, he alleges he should receive a 10 per cent commission, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Litto was vigilant after the original Lord series left the air, holding discussions on a movie version or a new version, and the trusts and CBS had issues on who controlled rights to the “Five-0” franchise. The dispute wound up in court in 1997.
Lito and Rose Freeman apparently had agreed to bond and fight for rights, with a a 50-50 split on future “Five-0” projects.
Litto earlier filed a 1998 suit and an arbitrator ruled against CBS that held the Freeman heirs were entitled to rights and control of reserved rights in the “Five-0” brand, including potential developments of a film or theatrical production, and merchandising.
When Warner Bros. failed to develop a long-anticipated movie production, CBS insted decided to relaunch the brand in a reboot that ultimately cast Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, without Litto’s involvement. O'Loughlin was a budding staple on the network, but had two failed series on CBS, finally hitting paydirt with "Five-0"
The reboot was launched in the fall of 2010 was that season’s hot newbie renewed for a second season, nearing its finale episode screening May 14. The show has averaged 12 million viewers but has had wavering response to its heightened use of story arcs that introduce far too many secondary characters, taking away the spotlight of the four principals.
Though not yet announced, it is theorized that a third season order will be forthcoming, presumably in line with the earlier-announced syndication pickup by TNT, beginning in the summer of 2014.