Fox News Channel filed suit on Thursday in New York Supreme Court accusing N.S. Bienstock, Paula Zahn’s agency, of inducing the former Fox News anchor to breach her contract by negotiating a deal with rival net CNN.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed a day after Fox News fired Zahn after learning she was in discussions with CNN about anchoring a morning news program. The same day the suit was filed, CNN announced that it had signed Zahn, who previously anchored a primetime show on Fox News.
“We consider the acts of N.S. Bienstock to be dishonest, duplicitous and illegal,” said Dianne Brandi, Fox News’ VP of legal affairs, in a statement. Brandi added that FNC had not ruled out other legal action.
In the suit, Fox News said that Zahn’s contract included the promise that she would not accept any other offers of employment during her term with the net and that Fox News would have the right to match any competing offer.
“Bienstock’s concerted efforts to have Zahn breach her contract with Fox News was part of Bienstock’s and CNN’s larger scheme over the last several months to entice other networks’ talent to CNN in their bid to raise CNN’s lagging ratings,” the suit stated.
Bienstock also represented several other newsies who recently migrated to CNN, including Aaron Brown, the former ABC News anchor who will host a primetime newscast for CNN.
“This lawsuit is totally without merit,” said Bienstock spokesman Tom Goodman. “None of our actions as agent for Paula Zahn were in violation of her contract with Fox News. We are fully confident that this will be quickly resolved in our favor.”