Dutch to clog court

HMG suit alleges Endemol broke contract

AMSTERDAM — Holland Media Group and Endemol will battle it out in court for the second time in a year, this time over breach of contract.

HMG filed a civil suit Thursday alleging that thesp Marc Klein Essink’s appearance on Endemol’s hospital drama “Trauma 24/7,” due to air next month on rival SBS Broadcasting’s Net 5, breaches both Endemol’s and Essink’s contracts with HMG.

HMG spokeswoman Jacqueline Hekkers says the contract allows Essink to work as an actor in drama productions only if HMG is notified and “on condition that HMG’s interests are not harmed.”

Essink did not request approval, she maintains, adding that HMG will start its own hospital series on its RTL 4 in September. “Of course this will hurt our interests,” said Hekkers.

Fierce rivals

HMG and SBS each have three channels in Holland, and the competition is fierce, especially between SBS’ Net 5 and HMG’s RTL 4, both of which aim for female viewers. Essink, who has a contract with Endemol and HMG to host entertainment shows on RTL 4, has become a major aud draw for his roles as a womanizer.

HMG claims it notified Endemol verbally and once by fax that it would take action if Essink continued in the role, but Endemol has denied receiving the fax. Endemol spokesman Thomas Notermans said the suit took the Euro production company by surprise. “They might at least have sent us a press release,” he added.

Case goes to trial April 5, with HMG asking the judge to order that “Trauma 24/7” not air the episodes in which Essink appears.

Tensions have increased between Endemol and HMG since August, when a Dutch civil court ruled that HMG channel RTL 5’s program “Sunday United” was a copy of Endemol’s “Sport on the Table.”

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