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'Suburgatory' Showrunner Sued by Former Manager

Emily Kapnek Lagana, executive producer and showrunner of the ABC series Suburgatory, and her company Piece Of Pie Productions were sued Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by her former personal manager for commissions she is said to have failed to pay.   

Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, of the Gotham Group, says in her suit for breach of contract and fraud that she represented Kapnek (as she is known professionally) from 1998 until earlier this year. Originally Goldsmith-Vein represented her as an agent while working for Artists Management Group.

Read the complaint here.

In 2002, Goldsmith-Vein formed her own management company, taking Kapnek along as a management client.

The suit says Kapnek stopped paying 10 percent commissions after she signed a two year overall deal with Warner Bros. Television in April even though the manager advised her on matters related to that deal. Goldsmith-Vein is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

“Kapnek reached a point,” alleges the lawsuit, “where she believed she was self-reliant, discarded plaintiffs and broke her word and the parties' contract.''

The suit says that when Goldsmith-Vein first met Kapnek she was writing for animated TV shows and sought to work in live-action TV. At the time, Kapnek created, wrote and produced the animated series As Told By Ginger which was on Nickelodeon from 2000 to 2009. 

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While a client of Goldsmith-Vein, according to the suit, Kapnek sold the pilot Weiner Park to NBC in 2005, created the ABC series Emily’s Reasons Why Not, wrote episodes of Aliens In America for The CW, wrote episodes of the HBO series Hung and was a consulting producer on NBC's Parks and Recreation.

"Over the past years, plaintiffs devoted enormous time and energy to managing and advising Kapnek on Kapnek's professional and personal activities,” says the suit.

Kapnek created Suburgatory two years ago and is also credited as a writer and as director of at least one episode. That show has been picked up by ABC for a third season, expected to begin in January.

The suit, says that in past years Goldsmith-Vein had lent money to Kapnek when she was having financial difficulties and helped find a doctor to perform heart surgery on the father of Kapnek’s oldest son.

Goldsmith-Vein says in the suit she also hired and fired a series of agents for Kapnek including William Morris and Endeavor. She is currently a client of UTA. 

In October, Kapnek sold Selfie, a modern take on My Fair Lady, to ABC, receiving a put-pilot commitment from ABC.

Representatives for Kapnek had no immediate comment.