Judge Judy Sheindlin is starring in a new legal drama – and while it sounds like the plot of an upcoming TV series, this one’s unfolding in a real-world courtroom.
She’s locked in a series of bitter legal disputes with the Rebel Entertainment talent agency and agent Richard Lawrence.
And the Deadline website reports that it’s quickly getting “vicious.”
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Lawrence and Rebel Entertainment sued over the summer, claiming they’re entitled to millions in profit sharing as the result of a $95 million deal involving the “Judge Judy” back catalog rights.
Sheindlin then fired back with a countersuit of her own, accusing them of unlawful and unfair business practices, according to the CinemaBlend website – but said she would donate the $4 million that she would receive to a cancer charity.
Lawrence’s attorney responded with a statement calling her a “cruel, petty, and vindictive person, without an ounce of empathy, decency, or tact.”
Sheindlin says the facts will bear her out – and if they don’t “then I am all the nasty names he so gratuitously calls me.”
She added that Lawrence never represented her or the show, and that his own clients were “sold down the river” so that he could enrich himself off her iconic series.
“Please remember that for all the vicious and condescending names he ascribes to me, my work has supported him to the tune of over 22 million dollars,” she said, according to Deadline.
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She added that she doesn’t want or need his money, which is no doubt true: The Hollywood Reporter says Sheindlin currently earns $47 million a year, and Forbes has her listed as the 48th-richest self-made woman in America, with an estimated net worth of more than $400 million.
The courtroom drama is the latest chapter in an escalating legal feud that has lasted for years and involved multiple parties.
In 2016, CBS claimed it had paid the agent and his firm $17 million based on them “fraudulently misrepresenting” their role in the show, which involved representing the two producers who came up with the concept but were fired during the first season.
Sheindlin said at the time she had met Lawrence just once, 21 years ago, for just two hours.
“Neither I nor anyone involved in the day-to-day production of my program has heard from him in 20 years,” she said. “Not a card, not a gift, not a flower, not a congratulations. Yet he has somehow received over $17 million from my program. My rudimentary math translates that into $8.5 million an hour for Mr. Lawrence. Not a bad payday. Now complaining about not getting enough money, that’s real chutzpah.”
But apparently, the battle continues – and if the latest filings are any indication, they’re not about to settle anytime soon.
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Maybe they can take it to “The People’s Court.”
Sheindlin is in the middle of the final season of her show, but at 78 isn’t about to put down the gavel yet.
“I didn’t want to retire. I don’t have hobbies. I enjoy working,” she told Fox News.
Instead, she’s going to start in a new series with a similar theme and style for IMDb TV, which streams for free via Amazon.
“Program, characters, the set, everything will be different,” she told Fox News. “Me, the same. Me always in the middle chair. Governing by committee is not my strong suit. And unless the audience wants to see me in a two-piece bathing suit, I’ll wear a robe.”
Sheindlin described herself as “over the moon” about the new series.
“I used to yell at my husband, Jerry, for all the packages he had ordered from Amazon every day,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “I have enough mouthwash in the cabinets to keep the entire planet’s breath fresh until the next millennium. The doorbell never stops ringing. The dogs don’t even bark at the delivery people anymore. After I signed this deal, I apologized to Jerry. Who would have thought that the Sheindlins and Amazon would be mishpachah?”
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That’s the yiddish word for the whole extended family.
Just don’t expect Lawrence to get an invitation to the next reunion.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.