- The Washington Times - Monday, December 29, 2008

WB sues CBS over ‘Men’

An ongoing dispute between Warner Bros. TV and CBS over “Two and a Half Men” has spilled over into the courts, Variety notes.

Last week, Warner Bros. filed a $49 million suit against the Eye in Los Angeles Superior Court, arguing that the network has refused to pay sums it agreed to hand over to the studio if “Two and a Half Men” turned into a hit.

According to the suit, soon after the two sides agreed to a standard four-year license deal for the show, CBS asked Warner Bros. for options to renew the license for a fifth and sixth season at a “modest increase” in fee.

Such arrangements are customary, the studio says, as long as the network agrees to provide additional benefits to the studio in success. Specifically, Warner Bros. says CBS agreed to cover a portion of the show’s first four seasons’ worth of deficits (the standard industry practice of “deficit recoupment”) and also agreed to increase the show’s season five and six license fees.

“CBS has reaped the benefits of the tremendous success of ‘Two and a Half Men’ but wants to deny Warner Bros. the right to its agreed-upon share,” the studio says in the complaint.

The suit says CBS paid a $750,000 per-episode license fee for the show’s first season but the cost to produce each episode came in at $1.22 million per segment. As a result, Warner Bros. said, its first four seasons’ worth of deficits clocked in at $61.1 million.

In the formula Warner Bros. says it worked out with CBS, the two sides agreed that the network would cover that entire four years’ worth of deficits if the show ranked among the top 10 TV series as well as a premium of $650,000 more per episode in the fifth and sixth seasons if the show ranked in the top 5 in its fourth season (with a downward scale from there).

This isn’t the only recent tussle between CBS and Warner Bros., although it’s the first time in recent years that a dispute has made it all the way to a lawsuit.

CBS and Warner Bros. remain partners in the CW network; the studio also produces several other shows for the network.

‘Tuck’ promo on MySpace

FX has rolled out a new promotional hub on MySpace aimed at drumming up interest in the upcoming sixth season of the plastic-surgery-themed drama “Nip/Tuck.”

The cable network has launched a contest within MySpace’s TV section, the Channel, which invites users to upload personal video testimonials on why they qualify to interview the show’s stars, Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon.

The deadline to submit is Jan. 7, with the winner to be announced Jan. 23.

Soon after, the user-conducted interview, which will take place on the “Nip/Tuck” set in Los Angeles, will be available for all fans of the show to stream at Myspace.com/the-channel.

The sixth season of “Nip/Tuck” debuts on FX Jan. 6.

‘Dexter’ co-star on ‘Betty’

“Dexter” co-star Lauren Velez has been tapped for a multiepisode arc on ABC’s dramedy “Ugly Betty.”

Miss Velez will play Elena, a nurse who enters the lives of the Suarez family, on the ABC Studios-produced series, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Details about her character and how she will interact with Betty (America Ferrera) and the rest of the Suarez clan are being kept under wraps, but word is that she is tied to a plot twist that might involve the death of a major character.

On “Dexter,” Miss Velez plays Lt. Maria Laguerta, a higher-up and resident dictator at the Miami Police Department. Her series credits include HBO’s “Oz” and Fox’s “New York Undercover.”

On tap tonight …

The Tunnel Dwellers of New York (9 p.m., Sundance Channel) — New York City’s underground life is explored in this film by documentarian Chantal Lasbat, getting its U.S. television premiere on the cable channel. The film explores a fascinating world of some 18 levels of tunnels and 468 open or abandoned subway stations. Among those we meet are Carlos, who has added paint and appliances to a submarinelike cubicle.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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