‘Blue’ suit fitting

Bochco will get his day in court against Fox

Steven Bochco’s long-running case against Twentieth Century Fox is headed for trial after a judge on Wednesday denied Fox’s motion for summary judgment. A trial date of April 9 has been set.

Producer Bochco alleges that his hit series “NYPD Blue” was licensed to Fox’s cable network, FX, at fees substantially below fair-market value. Bochco claims that the series was sold for $400,000 an episode when its real value was at least $700,000. At 200 episodes, damages, he claims, add up to $60 million.

Bochco’s attorney, Brian Lysaght, said, “The big news is that we broke through the last barrier and have a clear shot at a jury. All I ever wanted to do is get this case to trial.”

Lysaght has every reason to want to get in front of a jury. A few years ago he represented Ron Shelton in his suit against Fox over profits on “White Men Can’t Jump,” and won a verdict of $10 million.

On earlier motions, Fox was able to knock out Bochco’s fraud claims, but with Wednesday’s loss, Bochco can proceed to trial on breach of contract claims.

‘Record price’

Fox’s attorney Anthony Basich said: “This case is about someone who struck a good deal and a few years later they think they could have done even better. There’s been no testimony that any cable network was willing to pay more than the $400,00 per episode that FX paid in 1995, which was a record price.”

Bochco’s suit was filed in L.A. Superior Court in September 1999, hot on the heels of a similar suit by David Duchovny over “X-Files.” That case has since been settled.

If the Bochco case goes to trial, it will be the first charging that vertically integrated entertainment companies are selling to themselves at below-market prices.

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