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Fox Business Network, Leftfield Pictures Battle Over Reality Show Contract

Fox Business Network and reality TV heavyweight Leftfield Pictures have exchanged a new round of fire in the contract dispute that sparked a lawsuit earlier this year.

Fox Business Network recently filed a response to Leftfield’s lawsuit, filed in July in New York Supreme Court, that accused Leftfield of misrepresenting the identities of participants in a reality show about estate sale managers, among other claims. FBN ordered 26 episodes of the series in July 2014 but pulled out of the project three months later.

Leftfield, which was acquired last year by the U.K.’s ITV Studios, accused FBN of “distorting and omitting key facts” and engaging in personal attacks on Leftfield CEO Brent Montgomery and general counsel Chris Silvestri. Silvestri previously worked for FBN sibling Fox News for 17 years.

FBN’s legal response “is a desperate attempt to distort and misrepresent the facts, and to attempt to damage and bully Leftfield through derogatory representations,” Leftfield said. “Leftfield has no intention of backing down and intends to file a response to Fox News’ counterclaim next week. Leftfield remains confident that as this case plays out in the appropriate legal channels, Leftfield’s position will be vindicated. Simply put, Fox News doesn’t want to pay the bill.”

FBN’s response maintains that Leftfield executives lied to the network about the identity of one family that was to be featured in the estate sales series. Leftfield, according to the complaint, presented them in a sizzle reel as a father and two sons but it turned out the man known as Silas Pierce was gay and had no legal relationship with the men presented as his sons.

FBN’s counterclaim also asserts that Leftfield failed to deliver the first six episodes by the Sept. 30, 2014, deadline. In November, FBN demanded Leftfield return the money advanced for the initial batch of episodes. The series was envisioned as the first reality series to air on FBN.

The behind-the-scenes look at how the project came together, and how it fell apart, underscores the trickiness of plucking people from obscurity to be featured in unscripted TV shows. FBN’s complaint asserts that it repeatedly told Leftfield executives that the series had to be entirely “truthful” because FBN is a news outlet, not an entertainment channel.

“Leftfield’s actions were malicious, wanton, willful, morally reprehensible, in reckless disregard of FNN’s rights,” FBN said in its response.


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