Behind the Lawsuit: Liza Sues VH1

12/17/2002 8:12 AM Eastern

Liza Minnelli and her husband, David Gest, aren't letting bygones be bygones with VH1: They've filed a multimillion-dollar breach-of-contract suit against the network's parent for pulling the plug on the reality-TV series based on their life together.

Gest, a promoter, filed suit Monday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan against Viacom Inc., MTV Networks and Remote Productions Inc., which was producing the show.

The suit seeks various kinds of damages, totaling up to $23 million, for breach of contract and defamation, in part charging that Minnelli and Gest "turned down other profitable business opportunities" while working on the defunct series.

New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams broke the story on the lawsuit Tuesday, and VH1 confirmed that it had been served with the suit. The legal papers said Minnelli and Gest were to be paid $1.25 million for their services in producing and filming the TV show, and they were given a $100,000 advance.

"We have received the papers," VH1 spokeswoman Laura Nelson said Tuesday, adding that the network can't comment on the litigation.

In a much publicized battle, in October -- after shooting 60 hours of tape -- VH1 announced that it was not going forward with the10-episode Minnelli series, Liza and David, which never made it to the air.

After unveiling plans for the reality show in July, Gest and VH1 producers clashed a number of times, with the final battle being over which celebrity guests at a dinner should get up and sing during a taping.

VH1 complained that it wasn't getting enough access to Minnelli and Gest, and that Gest was difficult to work with and a control freak. In response, Minnelli and Gest took their case to the public, charging that VH1 has been unreasonable.

Minnelli and Gest even appeared on Larry King Live on Cable News Network Nov. 20 to tell their side of the story in their dispute with VH1. During that appearance, Gest said the couple was thinking about suing VH1.

"We are contemplating -- our attorney, Mickey Sherman, is contemplating legal action," Gest told King. "We were more than willing to live up to what our contract was, and we did everything we were supposed to do, plus some."

Sherman is the Connecticut attorney who represented Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who was convicted this summer of killing his neighbor, Martha Moxley, in 1975.

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