Actor Robert Wagner has sued Aaron Spelling Prods. for $20 million, alleging that he was cheated out of profits on the phenomenally successful Fox television show “Beverly Hills 90210.”
Wagner claims he is entitled to profits as part of a 10-year-old settlement between Spelling and Fox, under which Spelling got the right to produce “Beverly Hills 90210” in exchange for “Angels 88,” a never-produced series in which Wagner had a participation.
The complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court Thursday against the Spelling entities, Spelling Prods., Spelling Entertainment and Spelling Entertainment Group, lays out a saga that began in 1973 when Wagner and his wife, Natalie Wood, made a deal with Spelling under which they would submit ideas to ABC for pilots. One idea was for “Charlie’s Angels,” and under their deal, Wagner and Wood shared profits equally with Spelling.
In 1988, Spelling decided to do a new series, “Angels 88.” Under the deal, Wagner would get 7-1/2% profit participation, regardless of whether he rendered services. Unbeknownst to Wagner until late 1999, Fox had made a firm commitment to do “Angels.” When Fox reneged in 1988, Spelling threatened to sue. As part of the settlement with Fox, Spelling was given “90210” to produce.
Since Spelling was given the opportunity to produce “90210” in exchange for an asset in which Wagner had a interest, the actor claims he is entitled to the same profit participation arrangement on “90210” as he had on “Angels 88.” He attributes the delay in filing to misrepresentations by the Spelling companies.
The complaint alleges breach of contract and fraud and seeks 7-1/2% of gross profits on “90210.” It estimates damages as not less than $20 million.
Wagner is represented by Larry Stein of Alschuler, Grossman, Stein & Kahan.
Spelling did not return calls seeking comment.