UPN Executive Sues Own Network

By Lisa
September 7, 2001 - 2:35 PM

The Chief Executive Officer of UPN Dean Valentine has filed a lawsuit against his employers - while he's still on the job.

In 1997, Valentine was lured from his position as president of Walt Disney Television by a lucrative package of bonuses and a long-term cash incentive plan. The deal was not formalised when he joined the company, but a written agreement stated that the network would finalise a formula in good faith. Four years later, Valentine's patience has worn thin and lead to him filing the lawsuit.

Lawyers contend that the package should have delivered Valentine between $3 million and $22 million, depending on the network's performance and whether he served out his five-year contract. During the first three years of his contract, UPN alleged failed to negotiate any kind of agreement, with owners Paramount and Chris-Craft blaming delays on the other. An agreement tabled in August last year is described in the lawsuit as "ludicrous."

While at Disney, Valentine was responsible for overseeing hit shows like Home Improvement and Ellen. At the same time, UPN was a failing network owned jointly by Paramount and Chris-Craft. Over the four years since he's been with UPN, despite ownership uncertainty and industry turmoil, UPN is now poised to start what could be its best ever season; with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Enterprise set to launch in its Fall season. "Valentine has taken a failing network with a failing strategy and turned it around," states the lawsuit.

"This plan should have been in place the first year he was there," said Dale Kinsella, Valentine's attorney. "Right now, we're into this four years and the plan that ultimately emanates is the product of hindsight and the revision of history." UPN and Paramount have yet to comment on the action.

More about the lawsuit can be found in this Variety report, or this article at Inside.com.

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