Ken Corday of Days of our Lives

Image: Jill Johnson/JPI

Corday Productions accuses Sony of playing favorites with its soap operas.

Updated August 27: Soaps.com previously brought readers attention to a lawsuit against Sony by Corday Productions, claiming among other things, that Sony was not diligent in trying to distribute the show in other markets. The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that many of the claims in the original lawsuit have been shot down by the courts and that retired federal judge Gary Feess sided with Sony on several accounts. Feess stated that the breach of fiduciary duty claim fails because the relationship between the producer and distributor is a commercial relationship and not a fiduciary relationship. Feess also found it isn’t a joint venture. He also axed the allegations that there was a breach of contract when Sony did not renegotiate more favorable terms when Days of our Lives expanded from thirty minutes to an hour, and did not agree that Sony had a responsibility to pay for production overages. The unfair competition claim by Corday was also tossed because the relevant statute “is not designed to remedy private disputes between private businesses” but rather to instead stop “business practices that threaten to deceive the public.” Corday Productions, however, will be allowed to attempt another claim against Sony pleading fraud with greater particularity. Feess also agreed with Corday’s claims that Sony breached its obligation to adequately market the series and to share marketing costs. The claim for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing will also move forward.

Back on February 15 we reported that Ken Corday has spoken out about the lawsuit Corday Productions has filed against Sony TV. “It’s extremely sad that a partnership of 54 years that was first forged in the early 1960s by my parents and what was then Screen Gems Television, and is now Sony, has deteriorated to this level. Our action today comes after deep diligent reflection. It is absolutely necessary to bring the current untenable situation out into the light in order to ensure the future of Days of our Lives for its incredible employees and for the hundreds of millions of loyal and dedicated fans worldwide.”

On February 11, Soaps.com reported the details of a lawsuit filed on the heels of the amazing news that NBC had renewed Days of our Lives for a 55th season. First reported by Deadline, Corday Productions is suing Sony Pictures Television, the company which distributes the soap opera, for $20 million dollars. Represented by Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger’s Pierce O’Donnell, Dan Stone and Joshua Geller, the lawsuit accuses Sony of breach of contract and fraud, and also names Columbia Pictures and Screen Gems divisions complacent in ignoring Days, preferring to focus on distributing The Young and the Restless to international markets. Sony owns 100% of the CBS soap. The lawsuit claims Sony of treachery which has left the soap’s back seasons, “completely unexploited for over five years,” a deliberate attempt to starve off Days while emboldening Y&R.

The 33-page lawsuit indicates that the ratings for Days have remained largely consistent while Sony’s distribution receipts have decreased by fifty percent. “This dramatic decline is directly attributable to a decision at the highest levels of Sony management to eliminate any competition to its own wholly-owned Series The Young and The Restless also distributed by Sony,” the suit from Corday Production states. The lawsuit goes on to claim that, “In the annals of Hollywood television, it is difficult to identify a distributor more guilty of blatant conflict of interest, deceit, perfidy, and abuse of market power.” In an attempt to recoup financial losses from Sony ignoring Days, and take back control of the show, Corday Productions states, “The only effective remedies are massive compensatory and punitive damages and immediate termination Sony’s exclusive, perpetual distribution agreement.”

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Corday Production’s lawsuit calls out, “Sony’s failure to market Days in foreign markets in good faith and compliance with laws prohibiting anticompetitive conduct,” and that Days is not being licensed to important, “key foreign territories, including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Canada, France, Zambia, and South Africa.” Furthermore, it charges Sony with putting the operating costs and burdens on Corday Productions, “due to an inadequate NBC license fee and mandating an inefficient, costly production schedule.”

Pierce O’Donnell, one of the legal councils representing Corday Productions, told Deadline that the complaint, “Exposes Sony’s concerted campaign to abandon selling the 54-year-old celebrated television series in foreign markets while it promotes its own daytime drama The Young and The Restless. ”

Sony has yet to respond to the lawsuit. Soaps.com will continue to follow this developing story and provide updates.