CBS Studios and Donald Bellisario have reached a settlement in a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the network for profits from NCIS: Los Angeles.
Bellisario, who created NCIS — which is a spinoff of his other series, JAG — filed a lawsuit against CBS for breach of contract. The complaint said that the contracts entered into by CBS and Bellisario were “designed to compensate Bellisario for, among other things, creating and developing television shows like JAG and NCIS that CBS could leverage into new spinoffs, sequels or remakes … Pursuant to the first opportunity provisions of Plantiffs’ contracts with CBS, CBS is contractually obligated to compensate Bellisario for NCIS: LA, including a percentage of its profits as well as a certain fixed compensation.”
Bellisario was not involved with NCIS: LA, which premiered in 2009, after being let go from the original in 2007. The complaint stated the spinoff “scrupulously replicates that which has made NCIS so popular and it does so with near clone-like fidelity to Bellisario’s recipe.”
Both CBS and Bellisario were relieved to put the matter behind them. David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, said in a statement:
“We’re pleased to settle this lawsuit on amicable terms and put this dispute to rest. Although we differed in opinion on this matter, our admiration, appreciation and respect for Mr. Bellisario has never wavered throughout. We consider him one of the best creative talents of his time and a valued member of the CBS family, whose shows, both past and present, have played an important role in CBS’s success.”
Bellisario added, “I am also pleased that we were able to amicably resolve the lawsuit short of a trial. I am gratified that CBS has recognized my contributions in creating JAG and NCIS.”