Friday, July 1, 2022

Lee Daniels, Damon Dash Settle ‘Butler’, ‘Empire’ Ownership Dispute

Director Lee Daniels arrives at Fox's "Empire" ATAS Academy Event at The Theatre at The Ace Hotel on March 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California
Director Lee Daniels arrives at Fox’s “Empire” ATAS Academy Event at The Theatre at The Ace Hotel on March 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California

*The legal situation involving Lee Daniels and Damon Dash has come to a resolution.

As previously reported, Dash claimed he lent $2 million to Daniels, entitling Dash to participate in the financial success of his projects – including “The Butler,” “Precious” and “Empire” – but was never fully repaid.

On Tuesday, the parties filed papers dismissing the lawsuit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dash’s attorney Natraj Bhushan said it was a “creative, fair” settlement that “calls for them to work together in the not-so-distant future.”

Per The Hollywood Reporter:

Bhushan couldn’t offer any specific details given a confidentiality provision.

Dash filed his lawsuit in New York Supreme Court last year and claimed that he supported Daniels so that the filmmaker could produce “The Woodsman.” In return for the money, Dash says he got a written agreement that gave him executive producer credits, 50 percent of rights on the film, and a guarantee that the investment would be repaid with interest from Daniels.

The music mogul says he helped promote Daniels’ career, got celebrities like Kanye West to perform in promotional support of films and reassuring other stars like Mariah Carey to back Lee after the 2008 film “Tennessee” didn’t perform that well.

In lieu of repayment, Dash says he got an offer to roll-over the debt to Daniels’ other films like “Shadowboxer.” Dash says he accepted, and years later, went to court arguing that more recent works from Daniels were covered under the terms of the agreement. Dash demanded credits, ownership and compensation.

Daniels responded in court by faulting Dash for not being specific about the provisions of the contract while instead relying upon “opaque references” to oral agreements and an “unintelligible jumble of promises and assurances.”

The producer/director also portrayed Dash’s money as an investment that came with risks — something the plaintiff allegedly knew about.

“The gravamen of the claim is that Daniels personally guaranteed Plaintiff’s investment in the motion picture business so that Plaintiff would never realize a loss,” stated Daniels’ court papers. “There is no personal guarantee. To the contrary, entitled ‘Risk of Investment,’ Paragraph 13.7 of the agreement – in all caps and bolded language – expressly warns that Plaintiff’s investment was subject to all of the normal risks associated with an inherently risky film venture.”

A judge never made a ruling on whether to allow the claims. Instead, the parties have worked out their differences.



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