Gabrielle Union has been starring in the BET drama Being Mary Jane since 2013, but mostly at the moment she’s being pissed off!
Now she’s suing the network over her contract! What’s the issue?
On Tuesday, the brunette beauty filed a lawsuit at the Los Angeles County Superior Court for at least $1 million, claiming that BET is trying to combine two 10-episode seasons of the show into one 20-episode season — in order “to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union’s contract.”
Though the Bring It On star has not commented on the suit, her lawyer Marty Singer released a statement, saying:
“We filed this lawsuit because of BET’s outrageous conduct toward its No. 1 star on its highest rated show.”
The lawsuit claims that the network agreed to produce no more than 13 episodes per season as Marty pointed out how busy his client was when the show first started:
“In 2012, Union was approached by the creators of a new television series entitled Being Mary Jane and asked to star in the series. At that time, Union was a motion picture star and did not want to commit to a typical network television series schedule with 20 or more episodes per season, because doing so would make it difficult for her to continue to work in motion pictures.”
Apparently, BET’s general counsel at the time, Darrell Walker, promised Union’s people that she would NOT be required to do more than 13 episodes in a season.
Singer and his client claim that BET combining the fourth and fifth seasons of the show keeps them from paying Union’s contractual raise. As it currently is, the actress is set to receive $150,000 per episode for season 4, and would earn $165,000 per ep in season 5!
That means she is expected at least $150,000 more for those final ten.
Here’s where things get a bit dicey though; the network only produced eight episodes in the first season and 12 episodes in the second. Because of this, Union’s reps renegotiated her contract at the time so she would be paid for 13 episodes, whether or not the episodes were made.
So now we’re talking at least $225k Gabrielle is out of pocket (with two 10-episode seasons, she’d be getting paid as though she made 13 each). But there’s more.
In 2015, the actress’ contract was changed to include an executive producer credit and add the requirement that a BET exec would be on set during shoots.
What could cause a bit more trouble in court is according to the complaint, Walker was the executive appointed to be on set, even though he was NO LONGER an employee of BET! The complaint states:
“Although problems have arisen on set during Season 4 of shooting the series, Walker admitted to [Union’s manager] that he is only there as a favor to Hill and that he has no real authority to act on behalf of BET to resolve problems and that he had hoped to leave by the first week of shooting.”
To make matters even stickier, after season 3 of BMJ, the show lost its showrunner — meaning the fourth season didn’t even start filming until September 2016. It wasn’t until right before principal photography started that Union says she learned BET intended to make Season 4 a 20-episode season! YIKES!
We can’t imagine having to deal with this contract mess! We just wish Gabrielle and her team the best of luck!
[Image via WENN.]