NEW YORK (Reuters) - An Emmy-winning comedy writer is suing the producer of a TV series about a Spanish road trip by U.S. celebrity chef Mario Batali and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, saying he was never paid for weeks of work.
Ben Karlin, a former head writer for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and co-writer of Stewart's "America (The Book)," sued Frappe Inc on Tuesday in New York state court for around $500,000 in damages and compensation.
In 2007, Frappe's president, Charles Pinsky, approached Karlin to "conceptualize and oversee" a companion book to the series, "Spain...on the Road Again," according to the lawsuit.
The series records a "cultural and gastronomic tour through Spain" by Batali and Oscar winner Paltrow and will premier on PBS TV stations in the fall, the lawsuit said.
But Karlin, who said he traveled twice to Spain after Pinsky approved his concept for the book, said Pinsky delayed giving him a signed contract for months and then dismissed him without pay.
Pinsky's lawyer, Leslie Ben-Zvi, said Karlin was misrepresenting the facts.
"We will vigorously defend this lawsuit, including the good names of Charles Pinsky and Mario Batali," he said.
Karlin said his role was poorly explained to others involved with the project. He said he clashed with Batali, who believed that Karlin was charged with writing the book, rather than overseeing its creation, the lawsuit said.
"Batali, claiming preoccupation with other ventures, also refused to contribute substantial material to the book, despite Pinsky's assurances otherwise, and there was no indication that any contribution from Paltrow was forthcoming," the lawsuit said.