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Current TV suit says Olbermann often AWOL
Network claims he breached contract, was uncooperative
Question of the Day
LOS ANGELES — Current TV offered its rebuttal to a scathing lawsuit filed by Keith Olbermann by filing a countersuit Friday detailing alleged bad behavior by its former talk show host and seeking a judge’s ruling that he is not entitled to more money from the network.
The network’s filing accuses Mr. Olbermann of breaching his contract by disclosing terms of the lucrative deal, refusing to cooperate in promoting the show and taking days off without permission.
The countersuit comes one day after Mr. Olbermann sued his former employer, claiming it violated his agreement, engaged in shoddy production values and owed him more than $50 million.
“Current seeks a determination that it is no longer obligated to pay a dime to Mr. Olbermann who, having already been paid handsomely for showing up sporadically and utterly failing to keep his end of the bargain, now seeks to be paid tens of millions more for not working at all,” the filing states.
The network and Mr. Olbermann have been at odds for months, and the dispute has escalated in the days since the former “Countdown” host was fired in late March.
Mr. Olbermann’s attorney Patricia Glaser said of Current’s countersuit: “No merit. No defense. And in our view, no problem.”
Current’s suit claims Mr. Olbermann has damaged the network and will continue to do so. It seeks unspecified damages.
The network’s filing paints Mr. Olbermann as a petulant figure after he was hired to be Current’s signature host, rejecting seven limousine companies, refusing to cooperate in promotional discussions and taking vacations with little notice. The complaint claims Mr. Olbermann wrote to Current co-founder Joel Hyatt to complain about a problem with a guest, “Give me a name so I know which of them to kill with my bare hands,” and threw a glass mug on the set, which prompted a complaint from the set’s landlord.
After two days of court filings, it was clear neither side was pulling punches in its description of the other.
Mr. Olbermann’s lawsuit repeatedly attacked the network and described Mr. Hyatt and co-founder Al Gore as “dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives.”
“Mr. Olbermann deeply regrets his decision to put his trust in Hyatt and Gore,” the lawsuit claims. “Current had neither the desire nor the ability to produce a first-rate news commentary show. Mr. Olbermann did not join Current to ruin his hard-won reputation and appear on a show that was an embarrassment.”
His lawsuit described a litany of technical issues, including shoddy equipment that wouldn’t work if it rained, “terrible sound and filming” of the show, segments that abruptly dropped off the air, busted teleprompters and an earpiece that repeatedly malfunctioned.
Current’s filing Friday claims Mr. Olbermann refused to cooperate in discussions about improving the set, and in general refused to promote the network.
Mr. Olbermann’s lawsuit denied several of the claims, including that he leaked information about his contract and that his absences were unauthorized.
The former host, who claims he may be owed $70 million or more when the case is over, took to Twitter after reading Current’s countersuit.
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