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Life felt a lot like TV judicial nonfiction last week when an appeals court poured cold water on efforts to drag the big salary of Judge Judy into the profits dust-up between CBS and Rebel Entertainment Partners over the now-shuttered syndicated show.
“Any apportionment of Sheindlin’s salary to some form of profit participation would, by definition, introduce risk that Sheindlin was unwilling to accept,” said the opinion affirming LA Superior Court Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong’s 2018 ruling on Judith Sheindlin’s $47 million annual paycheck. “In any event, we have discovered no authority, and Rebel offers none, obligating an entity to reclassify a performer’s salary as something other than salary for accounting purposes.”
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“Rebel argues CBS breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing by injuring Rebel’s right to receive benefits from the agency agreement,” the three-judge panel added to further their point in the “Not To Be Published In The Official Reports” opinion.
“For reasons discussed above, we disagree. Rebel lost benefits under the agency agreement not because of any action by CBS but because Sheindlin demanded a large salary, the agreement provided that the salary of a performer constitutes a cost of production, and the agreement further provided Rebel’s benefit would be reduced by the costs of production.”
As you would expect, Sheindlin is pleased indeed with all this, though is a bit more reserved than she usually is from the bench. “It’s always gratifying when the correct judgment is affirmed,” Sheindlin told Deadline on Tuesday of the June 30 ruling in the 2nd Appellate District.
It should be made clear, while Judge Judy the show was at the heart of this issue, Judge Judy herself was not a defendant in the matter with successor-in-interest Rebel. CBS, which is a defendant along with its Big Ticket Entertainment TV division, had no comment on the matter.
Still fighting Sheindlin and CBS on other fronts, Rebel’s main lawyer had a lot to say on the appeal opinion.
“Studios and Networks being allowed to deny backend compensation to profit participants by artificially increasing costs is patently unjust,” Freedman + Taitelman’s Bryan Freedman today. “The message should be sent as a warning to all backend participants that before they sign any agreements to make sure the studio does have the ability to redistribute costs and eliminate agreed upon back end compensation,” the Hollywood heavyweight attorney also stated.
“My client’s lawsuits against CBS continue to move forward and we are committed to right this wrong.”
Whatever will or will not be righted down the docket, the doubling of Sheildlin’s salary and the nearly $100 million sale of Judge Judy a few year back is now in the shadow of streaming to some extent. After 25 years, the last original Judge Judy aired last month, with the extra drama of an exit dustup with CBS over Sheindlin exclaiming she was “disrespected” by the network.
Sheindlin has found a new and seemingly lucrative port with Amazon Studios and its IMDb TV division. The former Manhattan family court judge will be back now on the Jeff Bezos-owned streamer with Judy Justice later this year.
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