In her typical style, Judge Judy Sheindlin didn’t mince words after news broke about Rebel Entertainment Partners’ lawsuit against CBS, saying that the company had cut it out of profits on both Judge Judy and Hot Bench.
“The fact that [Rebel Entertainment Partners’] Richard Lawrence is complaining about my salary is actually hilarious,” said Sheindlin in a statement. “I met Mr. Lawrence for 2 hours some twenty-one years ago. Neither I nor anyone involved in the day-to-day production of my program has heard from him in 20 years. Not a card, not a gift, not a flower, not a congratulations. Yet he has somehow received over $17,000,000 from my program. My rudimentary math translates that into $8,500,000 an hour for Mr. Lawrence. Not a bad payday. Now complaining about not getting enough money, that's real chutzpah! Since I have not spoken with Mr. Lawrence in over 20 years to suggest that he had any involvement in my creating Hot Bench is equally laughable.”
The lawsuit filed by Rebel Entertainment in Los Angeles Superior Court claims that it has not received any contractually-obligated payments from CBS and its subsidiary divisions since 2010. According to the suit, CBS says it is not paying because Judge Judy, syndication’s highest-rated show, does not turn a profit, even though the company pays Sheindlin an annual salary of $47 million.
The suit also claims that CBS is selling both Judge Judy and the panel court show that Sheindlin created, Hot Bench, to its own TV stations for “below-market fees in transactions that were not negotiated at arms-length.” Hot Bench premiered in September 2014, and is now the second-highest rated court show in syndication, airing on CBS owned stations in top markets.
Rebel is being represented in this lawsuit by attorneys Bryan Freedman and Jordan Sussman. Freedman also has represented Variety and Deadline parent company PMC in various legal matters, both publications disclosed.
Deadline first reported this story.
Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.
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