Jack Klugman sues again over "Quincy" profits

Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:39pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jack Klugman is accusing Universal Studios of hiding millions in profits from its classic crime series "Quincy, M.E."

In a lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the 87-year-old actor claims his deal with NBC to star on the 1976-83 series entitled him to a quarter of the show's "net profits."

According to the suit, Klugman never had a signed deal for the show but Universal executives agreed orally and "acknowledged in various writings that (Klugman was) entitled to a 'Participant Share' of 25% of all 'Net Profits' attributable to 'Quincy, M.E.'" and was to receive periodic accountings of the show's revenue.

Klugman says he never got either, and when his attorney requested copies of his deals in 2007, he was turned down by NBC-Universal lawyers. Klugman then filed a lawsuit in March 2008 to obtain the documents, and the studio provided accounting statements for 1998-2006.

Now he's suing again, this time for breach of contract, declaratory relief and an accounting. According to the new lawsuit, Universal's statement showed:

- "Quincy" has generated more than $242 million in total gross receipts in its lifetime but Universal has reported a $66.4 million net loss on the show;

- During the '98-'06 time period, gross receipts for the show were $40.8 million but net losses were $16.5 million.

Klugman is now demanding unspecified millions in back profit participations.

"Defendants made huge profits over the years but rendered an accounting statement which exposed that being a profit participant on 'Quincy, M.E.' was something that would never occur under Defendants' 'math,' rather a cruel hoax on the show's star, Klugman," the lawsuit says.

An NBC Universal spokesperson said, "The lawsuit is without merit." Under Hollywood's infamously byzantine accounting rules, it is not uncommon for ostensibly successful TV shows and movies to report bottom-line losses, which is why big stars usually demand a share of "gross" profits.

(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)