×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Viacom Sues Netflix for Poaching TV Production Exec

Viacom is joining the battle against Netflix’s hiring practices, filing a suit that accuses the streaming service of poaching a TV production executive.

Netflix announced last week that it had hired Momita SenGupta as vice president of physical production for its original series. SenGupta had worked for 10 years at Viacom, most recently overseeing physical production at Comedy Central, Spike, MTV, and VH1.

In the suit filed on Oct. 5 in L.A. Superior Court, Viacom alleges that Netflix induced SenGupta to breach her contract, which was not set to expire until April 21, 2020.

“Netflix has signaled that it has no intention of complying with the law, and that its illegal attempts to induce Viacom employees to break their contracts without consequence will not be limited to SenGupta,” Viacom attorney Anthony J. Oncidi alleged. “Netflix’s tortious interference with an enforceable term employment agreement is neither trailblazing nor innovative — rather, it’s just another example of Netflix’s utter contempt for the law of the State of California.”

In 2016, 20th Century Fox sued Netflix for hiring two employees, Marcos Waltenberg and Tara Flynn, before their contracts were up. In that case, Netflix has argued that Fox’s contracts are unenforceable under California law. Netflix also alleges that Fox was selectively enforcing its contracts. The case is set to go to trial next year, and is being closely watched in the industry.

According to the suit, SenGupta notified Viacom that she was leaving the company on Sept. 28. Viacom responded by sending letters to her and to Netflix accusing her of breaching her employment agreement. Netflix’s counsel responded to Viacom on SenGupta’s behalf, and advised that “Netflix does not regard this dispute to be limited to Ms. SenGupta.”

In a statement, Viacom said, “We believe the employment contracts we use are valid under California law, and that other companies may not solicit and induce employees to break them. We think Netflix should be required to play by the same rules as every other company doing business in California, and we are taking the steps necessary to ensure they do.”

Netflix countered by faulting Viacom’s “legacy studio employment practices.”

“Netflix intends to vigorously defend against this action as we believe this contract as well as the legacy studio employment practices underlying it create unenforceable obligations under California law,” a Netflix spokesperson said.

Viacom is seeking an injunction that would bar Netflix from hiring its employees while they are under contract, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Viacom Netflix by gmaddaus on Scribd

More TV

  • Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn amazon series

    Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn Start Casting for New Amazon Series

    We’re getting a few more hints about Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s top-secret fashion project for Amazon Studios. Casting calls have gone out for designers interested in being a part of the unscripted series, which is set to shoot in Los Angeles in June and July. The casting notice mentions the “potential for additional travel [...]

  • TRIAL & ERROR: LADY, KILLER --

    'Trial and Error' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “Trial & Error” is officially done. The true crime spoof had effectively been canceled last year when NBC did not exercise its option to renew the show for a third season. Studio Warner Bros. TV had been trying to find it a new network home, but that search has come up short. The series took [...]

  • ELLEN'S GAME OF GAMES -- "Say

    'Ellen's Game of Games' Renewed for Season 3 at NBC

    NBC has renewed the competition series “Ellen’s Game of Games” for a third season. Season 2 of the show officially launched on Jan. 8, though a preview aired on Dec. 12. Ellen DeGeneres serves as host and executive producer of the one-hour show, which includes supersized versions of some of the most popular games from her [...]

  • Paul DeBenedittis Named Nickelodeon Programming, Content

    Paul DeBenedittis Named Nickelodeon EVP of Programming and Content Strategy

    Paul DeBenedittis has been named executive vice president of programming and content strategy at Nickelodeon. There, he will lead content and programming strategies, partnerships, acquisitions and media planning for the flagship network as well as Nick Jr., Nicktoons and TeenNick across linear television, digital, branded apps and video-on-demand channels, among other platforms. DeBenedittis will report to [...]

  • major r&b grammy fox star recurring

    R&B Artist MAJOR. Lands Recurring Role on Fox's 'Star' (EXCLUSIVE)

    R&B artist MAJOR. is on “cloud three million” right now. His track “Honest” scored a 2019 Grammy nomination for best traditional R&B performance, and, as he tells Variety exclusively, he recently landed a recurring role on Fox’s “Star.” The singer-songwriter, born Major Johnson Finley, is currently shooting the musical drama in Atlanta, and will make his [...]

  • Comcast NBC TV Content Explosion Placeholder

    Karen Kovacs, Time Inc. Veteran, Named Exec VP of Client Partnerships at NBCU Ad Sales

    Karen Kovacs, a former senior executive at Time Inc. and a one-time publisher of People magazine, has been named executive vice president of client partnerships at NBCUniversal’s ad-sales unit. Kovacs will oversee broader partnerships with advertisers, and work to develop deeper alliances between sponsors and various parts of NBCU’s media portfolio. She will report to [...]

  • Jenji Kohan

    'Orange Is the New Black' Creator Jenji Kohan to Be Honored by Writers Guild

    Jenji Kohan, creator and showrunner of “Orange Is the New Black” and “Weeds,” has been named recipient of the Writers Guild of America West’s Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement. She will be honored at the Writers Guild Awards show on Feb. 17 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. “Jenji Kohan’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content