Millions awarded in Millionaire damages trial

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A California jury today ordered The Walt Disney Company to pay Celador International $269.4 million in damages, ruling that Disney breached its profit sharing agreement for ABC’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

The jury sided ruled that Buena Vista Television and ABC breached a deal to give Celador 50 percent of Millionaire U.S.’s profits. Celador first filed suit in 2004, alleging that Disney used “a complex web of self-dealing transactions’ to cheat Celador out of its share of profits.

According to papers file, the deal was to give Celador an executive producer fee for each episode, plus a backend share of the profit. Celador alleged that ABC deflated the production cost it paid Beuna Vista Television in order to limit Celador’s profit share. Celador’s attorney referred to Disney’s actions as “Hollywood accounting.”

Disney disagreed with the jury findings. “We believe this verdict is fundamentally wrong and will aggressively seek to have it reversed.”

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