Ed Schultz, host of MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” and “The Ed Schultz Show” on radio, has been sued for $100K in federal court in DC by NBC News DC broadcast bureau engineer and labor union official Michael Queen. Schultz is accused of fraud, breach of contract and other charges stemming from “efforts to bring his talents to television.”
Queen says he’s owed a share of the profits from Ed Schultz’s daily show on MSNBC–the $100,000 is equal to a 25% stake of the profits Schultz promised him and other expenses incurred while pitching Schultz as a TV pundit to various networks in 2008 and 2009.
James Holm, a producer for “The Ed Show,” told The Forum newspaper that Schultz has no comment on the lawsuit.
Queen says in a press release Schultz never signed an official agreement, but contends Schultz made promises in e-mails amount to an enforceable contract. Queen says he first approached the late NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert with the idea that Schultz would host a TV show. Queen then approached Schultz in January, 2008, and says Schultz agreed to partner with him to create a TV opportunity. NBC vet and TV Director Max Schindler (Meet the Press and the Today Show) joined the project, quitting shortly thereafter, citing ethical differences with Schultz.
Among the many promises Schultz allegedly made to Queen was “any TV deal will obviously involve you. I will not do a TV deal without your involvement….” Russert suggested Queen pitch the concept to MSNBC President Phil Griffin in April, 2008. Griffin turned the idea down, Queen alleges, only to change his mind a year later—when, according to Queen, Schultz went ahead without him to host “The Ed Show” and cut him out of any financial windfall from the deal. “The Ed Show” is currently on MSNBC’s primetime weeknights.
After he was hired by MSNBC, Queen says Schultz met with him and “personally assured Queen that he would pay Queen what he was owed.” Since then Schultz has allegedly refused to honor those commitments: “We pitched the TV idea to various network executives, produced a TV pilot, secured an apartment in D.C. for Ed and his wife Wendy and even gave them a car to drive free for three months. We picked them up at the airport, and went shopping for them – all while helping them become millionaires, and we received nothing for our efforts!” said Queen in his release.
Jeffrey Landa, Schultz’ lawyer, told TVNewser that the suit is “bogus,” since the two never signed any contract, and that Schultz paid Queen “every cent” he was owed.
“There is one email that Ed sent years ago that basically said if Queen got him the show on WUSA, he wouldn’t do the show without him,” Landa said, adding that, since the show was never made, Queen was not entitled to anything.
Queen is the NBC Executive Board member of NABET/CWA (National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians/Communications Workers of America) Local 31 in Washington, DC.
RBR-TVBR observation: Whatever may or may not have happened here, we have to assume that if Queen was determined enough to make these accusations in a press release, he’d be bold enough to cite the wording of some of the emails that may help him in court. If it’s just the WUSA email, then the suit will likely go nowhere. But on the other hand, if Schultz did pay Queen some compensation amount, it also could indicate an admission of liability.
But then, we’re not a lawyer. Heck, we don’t even play one on TV.