‘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.

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Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham of 'Gilmore Girls' (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for The WB Television Network)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Kelly Bishop and Alexis Bledel (who co-starred on 'The Gilmore Girls') attend 'Regrets' Off-Broadway opening night celebration at Beacon on March 27, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - JUNE 26: Actress Alexis Bledel attends the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic at Governor's Island on June 26, 2010 in New York City.
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File. 31st Dec, 2014. EDWARD HERRMANN (July 21, 1943 - December 31, 2014) was an American actor, director, writer, and comedian, best known for his Emmy-nominated portrayals of Franklin D. Roosevelt on television, Richard Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, a ubiquitous narrator for historical programs on The History Channel and in such PBS productions as Nova, and as a spokesman for Dodge automobiles in the 1990s. Pictured - Apr 10, 2002 - Los Angeles, California, U.S. - Actor Edward Herrmann and Actress Alexis Bledell at the premiere of 'The Cat's Meow.' © Robert Millard/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
Gilmore Girls cast members, left, Yanic Truesdale, Lauren Graham, Kelly Bishop, Alexis Bledel, Keiko Agena and Scott Patterson at the 17th Annual TCA Awards held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Huntington, CA., Saturday, July 21, 2001. (photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
370100 07: The cast from Warner Bros. TV series 'The Gilmore Girls.' (Photo by Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA)
370100 08: Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham star in Warner Bros. TV series 'The Gilmore Girls.' (Photo by Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA)
370100 09: Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham star in Warner Bros. TV series 'The Gilmore Girls.' (Photo by Warner Bros./Delivered by Online USA)

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.

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