LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former president of Artists Television Group has sued founder Michael Ovitz for $9 million, claiming fraud, deceit and defamation.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Superior Court by Eric Tannenbaum, the former president of TriStar Television. He alleges that Ovitz lured him away from his TriStar job with promises of a seven-figure salary and $1 billion in financial backing.
Tannenbaum said he signed the 1999 deal, which allegedly promised him $1.5 million per year for five years.
But when the company did not meet financial goals, "Ovitz panicked, abandoned ATG and shut down its operations over Tannenbaum's objections," the lawsuit claims.
Ovitz later fired Tannenbaum and portrayed him "in a negative light" in media interviews, according to the lawsuit.
He allegedly defaulted on his five-year promise of Tannenbaum's salary after firing him.
Ovitz, once considered one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, co-founded Creative Artists Agency before leaving to become president of The Walt Disney Co. in 1995. He left that position in a highly publicized fallout that garnered him $38 million in cash and roughly $100 million in Disney shares.
The 55-year-old began Artists Management Group three years ago, brokering film and television deals with its own roster of stars.
Robin Williams Leaves Artist Management Group
Robin Williams has left Michael Ovitz's Artist Management Group. The comedian's spokesperson says "although Robin has had a long and productive relationship with Michael Ovitz and Mike Menchel, he is ready to reunite with the resources of a full-service agency." Williams, who is on tour for the first time in more than a decade, has not yet signed with an agency.