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German TV group hits Team with suit

FFP accuses L.A.-based producer-distribber Team of fraud

BERLIN — German TV group FFP Entertainment filed a breach of contract lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court against L.A.-based producer-distribber Team Communications and its CEO Drew Levin, accusing them of fraud in connection with an agreement the two companies signed in April.

FFP and Team had sought to form Team FFP, a 50-50 joint production company to develop international TV movies and formats.

As part of the deal, Team was to provide FFP with 800,000 company shares within three weeks of the deal’s signing, something the company failed to do. The publicly traded Team is quoted on both the Nasdaq and Germany’s Neuer Markt.

Contrary to recent reports from Team, FFP says it has not been in negotiations with Team for “new forms of cooperation,” adding that the L.A. company had not presented any alternatives.

A statement released by Team Communications Wednesday said that the company “deems (FFP’s) action to be completely without merit and will vigorously defend the action.”

Team claims that FFP’s action is completely baseless because FFP has failed to meet several important conditions required to finalize a joint venture despite Team management’s continued requests for compliance with the agreement.

Team instructed its lawyers Wednesday to immediately file a counterclaim in L.A. against FFP seeking, among other things, the overturn of any agreements with FFP and/or damages for fraud and breach of contract.

FFP had a number of projects it was looking to produce via the Team FFP company, including “The Berlin Airlift Project,” an English-lingo pic based on the real-life romance between a Herald Tribune reporter and a U.S. Army general during the Soviet blockade of post-war Berlin. Also in the works was the series “Gulliver — The New Voyages,” a modern take on the classic Jonathan Swift tale that is being co-produced with Canada’s Telescene and has veteran Hollywood scribe Steven de Souza as exec producer.

FFP CEO Michael Smeaton says the German company will continue with both projects, adding that the turn of events presents his company with new options and the chance to look at potential new international partners.

The Cologne-based outfit has produced programming for Germany’s major stations, including Sat 1, ProSieben, ARD and ZDF. Company made a name for itself here with the hugely popular movie series based on the romance novels of author Rosamunde Pilcher for ZDF.

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