Nearly four years after executive producer Barry Josephson first filed his breach of contract and fraudulent inducement complaint against Fox over millions in alleged lost profits from the long-running series Bones starring Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz, the now Disney-owned entity has reached a deal to end the legal battle.
Cloaked in confidentiality, the agreement I hear is said to include a “substantial” payout to the actors, the Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP-repped Josephson and fellow EP and author Kathy Reichs. The settlement was revealed in dismissal paperwork filed Wednesday morning by Deschanel, Boreanaz and Reichs’ lawyer John Berlinski of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP filed for both sides in Los Angeles Superior Court, asking for “entire action of all parties and all causes of action” to be tossed “with prejudice.”
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The end to the bitter litigation comes just three months after Josephson added a fraud claim to his case following the rejection by an L.A. Superior Court judge of a ruling awarding $128 million in punitive damages to the EP and the Bones gang. That came via a scorching February final order by arbitrator and former judge Peter Lichtman.
Led by attorney Daniel Pettrocelli, the House of Mouse-controlled Fox had vowed to fight any attempt to resuscitate the case, but clearly that was only to a point.
Acquiescing to the just over $50 million in non-punitive damages that Deschanel and Boreanaz and EPs Reichs and ex-Tick boss Josephson received from Lichtman in his final award, Fox, repped by O’Melveny & Myers, argued successfully to Judge Richard Rico in May that punitive damages were never part of anyone’s Bones contract and hence can’t be and won’t be paid out.
Certainly Fox took a hit in another fashion too.
In Lichtman’s award ruling, the former L.A. Superior Court judge specifically and damningly slammed Fox’s Peter Rice, a “disingenuous” Dana Walden and Fox TV chair Gary Newman as appearing “to have given false testimony in an attempt to conceal their wrongful acts.” The arbitrator also made a stinging point of calling out Fox as having a “company-wide culture and an accepted climate that enveloped an aversion for the truth.”
Having formally acquired a huge swath of Fox in a $71.3 billion purchase earlier this year, CEO Bob Iger tweeted out on February 27 that he had “complete confidence” in inherited execs Walden’s and Rice’s “character and integrity.”
Integrity was likely not a term the Bones team would have used in relation to their once Fox overlords.
Actors and fellow Bones producers Deschanel and Boreanaz followed Josephson’s initial suit with their own lawsuit alleging they and Reichs had been “cheated out of more than $100 million in gross revenues and being overcharged many additional millions of dollars in alleged expenses.” Five months later, on April 8 2016, the consolidated cases saw Josephson and the actors take a hit as Rico agreed with Fox and tossed most of the case behind closed doors to arbitration. As the self-dealing issues were being handled in private, the rest of the case was stayed.
As the legal matter became hidden from the public eye, Bones concluded its 12-season run on March 28, 2017.
Maybe now all the legal jousting is finally over, we’ll see a Bones revival on Fox down the line – or not.