A man who claims he co-created a docu-series starring George and Simona Papadopoulos has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was forced off the project.
Michael Douglas Carlin filed a complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, alleging that he has been deprived of his 50% stake in the show, which was tentatively titled “Crossfire Hurricane.”
Carlin has authored two books on the death of Tupac Shakur, publishes a site called Century City News and identifies himself as a member of a “rogue order of knights.” In an interview, he said he had reached out to the Papadopouloses when he saw on Twitter that they were in Los Angeles. He established a rapport with Simona Papadopoulos, and last October they signed a one-page agreement to create a documentary about the couple.
George Papadopoulos was a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, who confided to an Australian diplomat that the Russians had been gathering dirt on Hillary Clinton. That helped trigger the FBI probe of Russian election interference, which was code-named “Crossfire Hurricane.” Papadopoulos later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts, and served 12 days in federal prison in Wisconsin.
Papadopoulos and his wife Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos have a deal with FGW Productions to create a docu-series based on their lives. The couple was trailed by a film crew when he reported to prison last fall, and the cameras were rolling when he was released two weeks later. The series has not yet found distribution.
Carlin said he introduced the couple to Stephanie Frederic, founder of FGW, whom he knew from his appearance on an A&E series about Shakur. Carlin said he invested months of work researching the project and drafting a 100-page treatment.
“The stuff that was filmed was extremely compelling,” he said. “You see the two of them getting into quarrels. You think about the weight of the U.S. government that was on them, plus the media attention. It was an awful lot of pressure on a new relationship.”
Carlin said he was the one who drove George Papadopoulos to prison in late November, but that shortly thereafter, he was frozen out of the show.
“I was their handler, making sure they showed up on time, making sure they were comfortable,” he said. “Slowly these guys from the production company started to build their relationship and push me out. One day I woke up and I was no longer included in this production.”
He alleges that FGW offered him a co-executive producer credit and 2.5% of the net profits from the show, plus a $50 per diem. He did not accept the offer, and has not been involved with the show since then.
Carlin initially filed a federal copyright complaint in December, acting as his own attorney. He was reprimanded by the judge for failing to file the required copyright notice, and he dropped the complaint this week. He is now represented by an attorney, Donna Bullock, who filed the complaint in state court for breach of contract and other causes of action. The suit names Simona Papadopoulos as a defendant, in addition to FGW and Frederic.
“I like the Papadopouloses — I like them a lot,” Carlin said. “I had to name Simona because I have a contract with her, but I think they are lovely people. I think America is going to fall in love when they get to know them.”
Gary Gorham, an attorney for FGW, said the lawsuit will go nowhere.
“This lawsuit is completely without merit,” he said. “Carlin’s federal claims were dismissed by Judge Dolly M. Gee yesterday, and we expect the same result in state court.”