Prospect Park Amends ABC Lawsuit, Alleges Conspiracy to Create ‘Mega Soap'; Seeking $125M in Damages

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Photo: The OnLine Network

Prospect Park, the production company who owns the rights to soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live, yesterday filed an amended complaint in its ongoing lawsuit against ABC.

The new paperwork comes days after stars from All My Children confirmed Prospect Park had canceled the series after one season. Though Prospect has yet to issue formal comment, based on the new paperwork filed, it appears the studio plans to lump AMC’s failure as part of the lawsuit against ABC. The company originally filed a $25 million complaint against ABC for breach of contract in April.

The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline reveal the studio is now seeking more than $125 million for out-of-pocket losses and/or lost profits. They allege ABC engaged in a conspiracy to create a “mega soap” and defraud the studio by sabotaging their efforts to reboot AMC and One Life to Live. “Unbeknownst to Prospect Park, at the same time the ink was drying on the Licensing Agreement granting Prospect Park an exclusive license for OLTL through January 31, 2013, ABC insiders were developing a plan to create a mega-soap through the amalgamation of OLTL and GH, intentionally disregarding Prospect Park’s rights,” notes the complaint.

Allegedly, as part of the conspiracy, ABC maliciously convinced Prospect Park to let them “borrow” select characters from One Life to Live in a “limited and short-term capacity” for use General Hospital. ABC violating the terms of their agreement in a pre-conceived plan to undermine any future attempts by Prospect Park to reboot the projects. “Even before the ink dried on the parties’ agreement, ABC began unilaterally changing key storylines and themes, literally killing some OLTL characters and deeply integrating others into the GH landscape, all to create a mega soap of GH behind Prospect Park’s back.”

(Editor’s Note: On November 23, 2011, Prospect Park announced it was suspending its plans to launch the series online)

Prospect also accused the network of engaging in deceptive practices when negotiating “secret, multi-year, exclusive contracts” Michael Easton, Kristen Alderson and Roger Howarth (Editor’s Note: The complaint later includes Kassie DePaiva in this group, though she was never signed to a ‘multi-year, exclusive’ contract) behind the studio’s backs. “Although ABC was well aware that having the OLTL characters portrayed by  these specific actors was an important element of the OLTL format rights acquired by Prospect Park, ABC never informed these actors of Prospect Park’s rights to the characters, and on information and belief, made multiple misrepresentations about Prospect Park, its plans and prospects to induce the actors to sign with ABC. Not a word was said to Prospect Park about any of this.”

As a result, Prospect Park sustained damages that hindered the success of the projects: “Confronted with losing its entire investment or trying to pick up the pieces and press on, Prospect Park eventually produced one new season of OLTL and of AMC. But, the damage could not be undone, nor the fans reclaimed. As a consequence of ABC’s fraud and its multiple breaches of both the express terms of the parties’ contract and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing included in every contract in this state, Prospect Park has sustained the loss of its investment of over $30 million, as well as the profits that it stood to make had ABC acted as the partner it had held itself out to be.”

In addition to the above, ABC is also accused of other forms of sabotage including but not limited to:

  • Failing to consult Prospect Park for storyline approval
  • Refusing to allow OLTL stars to appear on ABC’s other programming to promote the online projects
  • Creating “copy-cat” characters and daring to air them during and after the filing of their lawsuit and while Roger Howarth appeared on the online version of OLTL
  • Refusing to turn over URLS and social media pages for show websites
  • Altering OLTL “canon” by killing off characters and breaking up popular pairings
  • Refusing to air advertisements for One Life to Live and All My Children
  • Instructing Hulu management not to offer Prospect Park the beneficial financial terms and arrangements that Hulu was prepared to provide and had provided other less popular shows; making negative comments about Prospect Park to actors and encouraging them not to sign on to OLTL
  • Hiring Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati as General Hospital’s new executive producer and head writer as part of its plans to create a “mega soap” out of OLTL and GH. (Editor’s Note: Prospect Park fired both executives in November after suspending [Prospect Park now says it was only temporary] plans to launch OLTL in January 2012)

The full details of the amended complaint against ABC is listed here. ABC has yet to issue a response to the new filing, though previously they referred to Prospect Park’s claims as “baseless.”

Our POV: Wow…They actually listed ABC’s hiring of Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati as part of the network’s scheme to create a mega soap. From the “factual background” part of the complaint: “Realizing its error in abandoning the soaps, and dismissing ― without justification ― Prospect Park’s chances of developing  funding and exercising its options, on December 1, 2011, ABC announced that it was  hiring Valentini and Carlivati as Executive Producer and Head Writer of GH, respectively. No one was more familiar with the history, characters and fan base of OLTL than Frank Valentini and no one was more familiar with the storyline than Ron Carlivati.”

Interesting that Prospect Park failed to mention that in June 2011, it was announced Carlivati was joining GH’s writing team after OLTL’s series finale. This of course, was a month before the announcement that Prospect Park bought the licensing rights to AMC and OLTL.

In September 2011, Valentini joined The Online Network as Vice President, Serial Dramas, in addition to continuing on as executive producer. Weeks later, it was announced that Carlivati was heading to TOLN as OLTL’s lead scribe, provided there was an agreement in place with the Writer’s Guide of America. Guess what, there was never any deal made with WGA or any of the unions. In fact, Prospect Park blamed the unions for the projects not moving forward (among other reasons). Prospect Park said a lot of things when they announced they were ceasing plans to revive the shows, including praising ABC who “did everything in their control to help.”

There are two sides to every story – in this case there’s Prospect Park’s side, ABC’s side and the truth. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, but after reading the amended complaint, all I can say is…really? It’s hard to take this lawsuit seriously when, yet again, Prospect Park failed to take responsibility for anything (ever) that could have gone wrong with the reboots. Is it possible ABC was difficult? Sure. But I question the logic behind ABC allegedly, blatantly violate a licensing agreement and/or engineering a conspiracy to undermine said agreement that was to rake in hefty profits to ABC for doing absolutely nothing.

[info]Omar White-Nobles is the Executive Editor for TVSource Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss TV, soaps and more! Also follow TVSource Magazine on Twitter at @TVSource.[/info]

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About The Author

Omar White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.