The stars and executive producer of Fox’s forensic series Bones are suing the company for alleged shady accounting practices, claiming they’ve been cut out of millions in profits.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lead actors of Bones—Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz—as well as executive producer Kathy Reichs (the forensic anthropologist who wrote the novels on which the series is based), filed a lawsuit against Fox in L.A. on Monday.
The three parties are accusing 20th Century Fox Television, Fox and its affiliates of underpaying them and failing to distribute their share of profits, in addition to lying about licensing agreements. The surprising part is their claim that they’ve received no profits—out of the over $1.1. billion in revenue, according to figures—during the show’s many years of popularity.
The lawsuit obtained by THR describes Bones as a “cash cow for Fox” and lays out the initial agreements between all parties. It reads in part:
In return for her life story rights, the television rights to her novels, and her agreement to render producing services for the Series, 20th TV promised [Reichs] a 5% share of the Series profits. Plaintiffs Deschanel and Boreanaz, for their leading roles in the Series, are each contractually entitled to 3% share of Series profits.
The suit goes on to claim that Fox provided inaccurate accounting statements during an audit done on behalf of the plaintiffs and withheld documents about the show’s actual profits:
The documents that 20th TV did provide confirmed Plaintiffs’ suspicions and showed that they were being cheated out of more than $100 million in gross revenues and being overcharged many additional millions of dollars in alleged expenses.
The lawsuit also states:
In addition to uncovering improper self-dealing and misallocation claims, the auditor’s review, albeit truncated by 20th TV’s withholding of many key documents, unearthed more than a dozen accounting errors, tricks, and deceitful acts that 20th TV has used to deprive Plaintiffs of their entitlement to profits.
The suit notes that Fox has a history of alleged bad accounting practices—calling it “a systematic and pervasive effort” on the company’s part—and also cites previous cases involving shows like M*A*S*H andThe X-Files.
Another Bones executive producer, Barry Josephson, filed a similar lawsuit against Fox on November 25. He claims that the company threatened to cancel the series if he and others didn’t agree to their licensing stipulations.
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