‘Gilmore Girls’ producer sues Warner Bros. over residuals

Producer Gavin Polone sued Warner Bros. on Thursday, accusing the network of using creative accounting practices to deprive him of residuals for the Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls.”

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, represents the fourth dispute between Polone and the studio over “Gilmore Girls” residuals in the last 16 years. In this case, Polone alleges that the studio improperly charged a 10% SVOD distribution fee, which reduced profits by $2 million. The suit claims the studio also tacked on various fees, including electronic sell-through and video-on-demand expenses.

“These expenses … falsely underrepresent the bottom line number that determines Plaintiffs’ profit participation payments, resulting in substantially lower profits paid to Plaintiffs,” the suit alleges.

The studio is also accused of “straight-lining,” that is, bundling “Gilmore Girls” with unprofitable shows for distribution accounting purposes, thereby diminishing its profits.

Polone is also seeking an audit of the show’s profits dating back to 2012, and says he was recently told that Warner Bros. could not begin an audit before late 2019.

In 2016, Polone sued the studio to establish his right to be paid at all for the Netflix revival. At the time, according to the complaint, Warner Bros. contended that “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” was a derivative work based on the original series, and not a continuation of it, and that therefore Polone was not entitled to any residuals. The suit states that Warner Bros. also appeared to believe the Netflix revival was not a “television series” as defined in the contract because it appeared on Netflix.

As with the earlier disputes — which dated from 2002 and 2007 — Polone says Warner Bros. ultimately settled the matter and agreed to pay more.

Warner Bros. did not respond to a request for comment.