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TV Column
Posted at 07:19 PM ET, 04/05/2012

Keith Olbermann sues Current TV for breach of contract, sabotage, disparagement

As promised, Keith Olbermann has sued Current TV for breach of contract, sabotage, and disparagement, claiming the network owes him tens of millions of dollars.

In the lawsuit, filed Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court, Olbermann claims he had a contract for five years, at $10 mil a year, but was fired without cause after one year.

When Current TV announced last week it had severed its ties to Olbermann because the relationship no longer represented “the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers,” Olbermann responded with a statement in which he vowed to file legal action against the company.

Ahead of the lawsuit, Current sent Olbermann a letter late last month claiming he missed 19 of 41 works days in January and February, among other things.

Keith, in turn, alleged in the suit that, not long after being enticed to leave MSNBC to do “Countdown” for Current TV, he’d discovered network suits were “dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives.”

“Current’s dysfunction permeated all levels of the organization,” the lawsuit claimed. “After being on the air for nearly eight months – long after all ‘growing pains’ should have ceased – Current still couldn’t manage to, literally, keep the lights on.”

The “logistical nightmares, technical failures, and media disasters” he’s endured, the lawsuit said, included:

*The lights going off during a live broadcast

*Disruptions of the program’s news feed (if it rained)

*Incorrect settings for DVRs that precluded such devices from finding and recording the program

*Absence of the program from cable lineups

*Substandard production quality

*Lost video feeds of guests during on-air interviews

*Frozen text on teleprompters forcing Olbermann to ad lib for significant periods during live broadcasts

*Video monitors going out at Olbermann’s desk

*Olbermann’s ear piece going on the blink

*Video segments that did not match the stories being reported

*Repeated failures of graphics packages

*Dearth of promotional /advertising initiatives

*Routine loss of original written and video content, including the show open itself, due to computer failures.

In the lawsuit, Olbermann referenced an email from Current TV President David Bohrman, in which Bohrman said of the studio housing the show: “We are paying for a Porsche and getting a Yugo.”

“Olbermann thought he had made a deal with a legitimate network and instead got an unprofessional cable-access show,” the lawsuit said yeastily.

“If you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in,” Olbermann told CBS late-night host David Letterman this week. “ Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t going to do anybody a lot of good and it’s not going to do any good to the chandelier.” (“You’re the chandelier?” Letterman asked, just to make sure.)

By  |  07:19 PM ET, 04/05/2012

 
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