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Jury orders Disney to pay about $270 million to 'Millionaire' creator

July 8, 2010Article
Los Angeles Times

A federal jury in Riverside has dealt what could be a severe blow to how Hollywood studios report profits in television shows and movies, in a decision Wednesday that orders Walt Disney Co. to pay nearly $270 million in damages to the creator of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

The decision, if upheld on appeal, potentially undercuts the rationale that drove a wave of consolidation that swept the entertainment industry over the last two decades, in which media giants contended that it was economically advantageous to control both the production and distribution of TV programming.

"If this ["Millionaire"] decision withstands what I presume to be the numerous attacks that Disney will make on it, you'll see a body of law that establishes some rules for the studios that they're going to have to follow in terms of accounting for, and reporting, profit," said Ricardo P. Cestero, an attorney at Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger in Century City who specializes in entertainment law.

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