Keenen Ivory Wayans has sued fellow comedian/filmmaker Robert Townsend for using a segment of an HBO special that featured Wayans on Townsend’s Fox Broadcasting Co. series “Townsend Television” without his permission.
Wayans also charges that Townsend sold distribution rights to the HBO special , “Robert Townsend and his Partners in Crime,” without Wayans’ permission and without paying Wayans 20% of the profits as promised, according to a complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court.
Wayans earlier filed a grievance with the American Federation of TV & Radio Artists against the show over use of the clip (Daily Variety, Oct. 27).
The segment, entitled “The Bold, The Black, The Beautiful” and featuring Wayans as a character called Alderman Dexter Mitchell, was viewed by both men as the basis for a potential television series, the suit says. But Townsend “unreasonably refused” to consent to a series deal with Fox, Wayans claims.
The airing of the segment on “Townsend Television” in September came in spite of a series of disputes between Fox and Wayans over use of his name and material on repeats of Wayans’ series “In Living Color,” which Wayans left last December.
Thus, the suit said, the defendants — Townsend and Fox — knew of Wayans’ “very strong desire not to have anything to do with Fox and of his desire not to be associated with any television series broadcast by FBC,” the suit says.
Siblings Kim and Damon Wayans, who left “Color” shortly thereafter, also were featured in the clip.
Wayans wants at least $ 1 million in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages, an accounting, and an injunction against use of film or video with Wayans as performer/writer.