Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Agent of Hawaii Five-O Creator in Legal Battle With CBS

Images-4George Litto is the talent agent who represented the original Hawaii Five-O creator Leonard Freeman and he is currently trying to get money from CBS' hit remake of the show.  In May, Litto sued Freeman's heirs for making a 2010 deal with CBS that cut him out of the success of the franchise. Now LItto has amended his complaint to add CBS as a defendant and he is asking the court to declare the 2010 agreement invalid.  CBS has recently told a judge that this move is just to gain leverage against the Trusts and asked that the court reject the move.  

Litto represented Freeman in 1966 when the writer-producer made his first deal with CBS and the Hawaii Five-O show went on to air for 12 years on the network.  Freeman passed away in 1974 from a heart bypass surgery.  After his death, Rose Freeman wanted to modify the deal.  An amendment that year gave CBS the right to produce the show in the future and changed production responsibilities from Freeman's company to CBS.  Later in 2010, a new amendment allowed CBS to materially modify the 1974 amendment, including changing financial terms pertaining to the new television productions and eliminating the valuable no deficit/no production overage computation that applied to back-end participation in new epidsodes of Hawaii Five-O. 

Litto says the Trusts were not authorized to make this deal and that any deals to be made had to come from the joint venture that Litto and Rose Freeman established.  Furthermore, Litto alleges that CBS was aware of this.  So, Litto wants to avoid the 2010 amendment, which would make the 1974 amendment valid and require CBS to pay more profits from the series.  CBS has filed a demurrer objecting to all of Litto's claims and states that the claims have no merit. A hearing is scheduled for January, but could be expedited due to LItto's advanced age. 

See Eriq Gardner, Agent of 'Hawaii Five-O Creator Sues CBS to Invalidate Reboot Deal (Exclusive), The Hollywood Reporter, Oct. 31, 2012.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.


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