August 21, 2001
NOT EVEN TOP DIRECTORS ARE IMMUNE TO ACCOUNTING DISPUTES
Independent filmmakers often complain about creative accounting and the failure of distributors to pay them all that they are due. Veteran producers and directors frequently avoid such disputes because they have lawyers and agents to protect their interests, and because they have enough clout to insist on a better definition of profits, and can sometimes even secure a piece of the gross. But even top directors may encounter problems.
According to the Associated Press, Emmy-winning director James Burrows (“Cheers,” “Will & Grace”) is suing Warner Bros. Television for more than $5 million, contending that WB did not pay him his share of profits from the highly rated TV show “Friends.”
Burrows’ complaint alleges that WB promised him five percent of the net profits from “Friends'' and other compensation. According to Burrows, WB told the director that they planned on deducting payments to third parties from Burrows’ share of profits even though there was no explicit provision for such deductions in his agreement.WB declined comment.