Gabrielle Union Sues BET For Breach of Contract Over 'Being Mary Jane' | NBC Chicago

Gabrielle Union Sues BET For Breach of Contract Over 'Being Mary Jane'

The actress is suing BET and Breakdown Productions for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

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    File photo of Gabrielle Union attending 'The Birth Of A Nation' International Premiere screening during the 60th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 11, 2016 in London, England.

    Gabrielle Union latest drama is happening off-camera.

    The actress is suing BET and Breakdown Productions for breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

    In court documents obtained by E! News, Union's attorney, Marty Singer, alleges BET is trying to film two 10-episode seasons of Being Mary Jane back-to-back in an effort to "cram all of the episodes into a single season in order to fraudulently extend the term of Ms. Union's contract."

    Union has not commented on the suit. In a statement to E! News on her behalf, Singer says, "We filed this lawsuit because of BET's outrageous conduct toward its No. 1 star on its highest rated show." The network, meanwhile, has not responded to E! News' requests for comment.

    Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Billboard Magazine

    The filing claims BET agreed it would never produce more than 13 episodes per season. In the complaint, her attorney states, "In 2012, Union was approached by the creators of a new television series entitled "Being Mary Jane" and asked to star in the series. At that time, Union was a motion picture star and did not want to commit to a typical network television series schedule with 20 or more episodes per season, because doing so would make it difficult for her to continue to work in motion pictures."

    BET's then-general counsel, Darrell Walker, assured Union's team that she would not be required to appear in more than 13 episodes per season. However, a corporate policy required Union's performer agreement to include a provision allowing for a minimum of 10 episodes and a maximum of 26.

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    Singer claims BET is combining the series' fourth and fifth seasons to avoid paying his client's contractual raise and to extend its option to engage her services for another year. Under Union's contract, the 42-year-old TV star is set to receive $150,000 per episode for Season 4 and $165,000 per episode for Season 5.

    BET only produced eight episodes in the series' first season and 12 episodes in the second. As a result, Union's reps renegotiated her contract so she would be paid for 13 episodes, regardless of whether BET ordered that many. In 2015, the actress' contract was amended once again to include an executive producer credit and to require that, at Union's request, a BET executive would be physically on set during tapings.

    According to the complaint, Walker was appointed the executive on set, despite no longer being a BET employee. "Although problems have arisen on set during Season 4 of shooting the series, Walker admitted to [Union's manager] that he is only there as a favor to Hill and that he has no real authority to act on behalf of BET to resolve problems and that he had hoped to leave by the first week of shooting," the complaint states.

    Complicating matters: After the third season wrapped production in June 2015, "Being Mary Jane" lost its showrunner, so the fourth season didn't begin filming until September 2016. It wasn't until a week before principal photography began, Union says, that she learned BET intended to make Season 4 a 20-episode season. She is seeking damages of at least $1 million and an order that her contract be amended to reflect that there be a maximum of 13 episodes per season.

    --Reporting by Holly Passalaqua